July 14, 2013

My Gut Reaction: Jay-Z - Magna Carta... Holy Grail (July 4 or 9, 2013, depending on whether you download apps just to get free shit)

Shawn Corey Carter's twelfth (seriously?) solo album, Magna Carta... Holy Grail, was announced less than a month before its actual release date.  Like his friend and closest competitor Kanye West's Yeezus, it was not preceded by any singles, videos, or much in the way of hints as to how the fucking thing would sound.  Unlike 'Ye, though, Hova's project, although also adopting a faux-religious bent for the album title, also chose not to really perform any of the tracks in public leading up to the album release, opting instead to only drop little hints in television commercials and releasing lyrics ahead of the tracks themselves, as though that would help in the least fucking bit.  Still, the man has already sold more than one million copies of the album by the time you read this sentence (thanks to a cross-promotion with Samsung, who gave away free copies of the album to the first one million folks who downloaded Shawn's app), whereas Yeezus, which was also shrouded in mystery, had a solid first week in sales but tanked afterward.

Which is probably why Jay-Z runs a record label while Kanye West gets to be an "artist", but I digress.


Although Magna Carta... Holy Grail is the first Jay-Z solo album since 2000's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia to not include any Kanye West production, 'Ye's influence is all over this project, from the way there appear to be a minimum of seventeen producers working on each track to how Hova himself sounds very much Watch The Throne-refreshed, although still boastful to a massive degree, which is understandable.  The guest list is kept to a minimum: aside from Rick Ross, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean (possibly one of maybe two dudes who happened to work on both this album and Yeezus), an uncredited Nas, and Hova's wifey Beyonce Knowles, Jay handles things mostly by himself, with ad-libs coming courtesy of his producers (mostly Timbaland, who apparently recorded most of Magna Carta... Holy Grail in secret, just as he did Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience), but some from Pharrell Williams and Swizz Beatz, among others) and the guests that refused to leave the studio sessions (Timberlake and Beyonce appear on more than one occasion in this capacity).

At this point, Jay-Z has earned the cache where he can do whatever the fuck he wants, up to and including releasing an album with no singles promoting it, and he'll still make millions off of this shit.  All we can hope is that it at least sounds decent enough to wash away the lingering awful memories of The Blueprint 3.

Right?

1.  HOLY GRAIL (FEAT. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE)
The first voice on Magna Carta... Holy Grail is not that of Jay-Z, but of guest star Justin Timberlake, no doubt paying our host back a favor for his cameo on "Suit & Tie".  It takes a while to get started, and Timberlake's vocals throw the listener into thinking that "Holy Grail" is going to be some sort of love song, but once Hova starts (finally) rhyming, The-Dream and Timbaland's instrumental shifts to something infinitely catchier.  The blatant swipe from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" notwithstanding (was that really even necessary?), this wasn't terrible, but it seems like Jay-Z barely factors into his own song.  Also, on the original tracklisting, "Holy Grail" was marked as one of two bonus tracks (the other being the previously-released "Open Letter", which will now appear as a bonus track on vinyl versions of this album, but whatever), but now it's become the opening song on here?  That makes me thing that the rest of the project won't sound very cohesive at all.

2.  PICASSO BABY
So Jay-Z is rich, but he doesn't feel rich: in order to properly flaunt his wealth, he feels that owning an original Picasso is so necessary.  Timbaland's beat is actually dope as fuck, which isn't surprising when you learn that it samples a decent chunk of "Sirens" from, of all people, Adrian Younge.  Can you imagine how a Jay-Z project could sound if you let the mastermind behind Ghostface Killah's Twelve Reasons To Die run wild?  Not that it would ever fucking happen, but still.  Jay, unsurprisingly, talks his multimillionaire-type shit, and "Picasso Baby" manages to drop more names than you would if you happened to let a phone book slip out of your hands.  Timbo changes the beat halfway through, and Hova adopts a more antagonistic stance, even bringing up how he didn't sleep with Foxy Brown way back in the day when they worked together more often, as though anybody gives a shit about Inga today.  (I imagine someone will now interview Foxy about hearing (no pun intended; my understanding is that now her hearing is actually okay) her rap name dropped on a new Jay-Z song in 2013, if they haven't already done so by the time you read this sentence.)  Both halves of this track are ultimately very enjoyable, thanks mostly to Tim Mosely.

3.  TOM FORD
Obviously, given that title, "Tom Ford" is going to be a discussion about what Jay-Z is able to afford due to his massive wealth, up to and including what fashion designers he supports as a symbol of his financial status.  Unlike most rappers, Hova can actually back up his boasts with actual bank statements (if he so chose), so his shit-talking is genuine.  He uses the demented this-is-what-producer-Timbaland-thinks-Crystal-Castles-sounds-like-after-listening-to-about-a-quarter-of-one-song beat to also label himself as a grown-ass man who doesn't "pop molly", so this turns into a cross between The Black Album's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and Kingdom Come's "30 Something", although he's obviously older now.  Hearing an uncredited Beyonce pop up at the end to parrot her hubby's proclamations of her being a "bad bitch" was a bit weird: don't you two have a kid to take care of?  But whatever.  I didn't really like the beat all that much, but the song itself was pretty much what I expected otherwise.

4.  FUCKWITHMEYOUKNOWIGOTIT (FEAT. RICK ROSS)
Weirdly, given the guest feature, this was the first song I actually listened to on Magna Carta... Holy Grail.  Producer Boi-1da doesn't disappoint: his work behind the boards is flat-out great on here.  I do wish that the song didn't focus solely on Officer Ricky for the first half, though: I had almost forgotten that this was supposed to be a Jay-Z song until he (finally) popped up to rip shit the fuck up.  Ross sounds like he can barely comprehend the mere thought of keeping up with this beat, but it's worth sitting through his contribution just for our host's arrival: given Jay's early days speed-rapping alongside Big Jaz and Sauce Money (and that, folks, is how you bring Sauce Money's name into a Jay-Z album review in 2013), he fits over the instrumental like a goddamn glove.  That beat will also sound awesome in your car, too, admit it.

5.  OCEANS (FEAT. FRANK OCEAN)

Apparently this track was recorded more than two years ago, possibly around the time Watch The Throne was being put together. Crooner Frank Ocean, who also appeared on that Jay/'Ye project, is one of only a few connecting threads between Yeezus and Magna Carta... Holy Grail, but Hova gives him much more to do on “Oceans”, a Pharrell Williams production which may or may not have been named after him. The instrumental attempts to sound like a sweeping epic as large as an actual, well, body of water, but both Hova and Frankie Ocean sound kind of apathetic to the cause, with Jay-Z especially running on autopilot. I'll probably never find a reason to listen to “Oceans” ever again, so...



6. F.U.T.W.

Timbo's instrumental is downright hypnotic when Jay is actually spitting his verses, working overtime to help our host's lines sound better than they actually are, although, to be fair, Jay-Z sounds really good on “F.U.T.W.” (which stands for either “fuck up this world” or “fuck up the world”, depending on which interpretation you accept). That beat is actually pretty fucking nice, which seems to be one of the running themes of Magna Carta... Holy Grail; Jay-Z is wealthy, and he can afford the best possible beats to deliver his message upon. Thankfully, he can still rhyme with the best of them, but the star of this track was, again, Timbo.



7. SOMEWHEREINAMERICA

The ubiquitous Hit-Boy (alongside Mike Dean) produces “Somewhereinamerica”, unleashing a beat that is every bit as catchy as his previous work with Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, and A$AP Rocky. Although Jay gets in some good lines about his hustling past, the track itself comes across as a half-finished thought: why else would our host devote so much time to the image of Miley Cyrus twerking? Still, I found this decent enough, and its short length certainly helped in that regard. I fully expect someone else to swipe the beat for a mixtape freestyle in order to properly do it justice, though.



8. CROWN

G.O.O.D. Music protege Travi$ Scott has yet to impress me with either his rapping or his production, but every day is another chance to turn it all around. Except for today. A late addition to the project, “Crown” pretty much sounds like the type of rap song that every goddamn artist records these days, aiming for radio airplay while still pretending that it's “edgy” enough to push boundaries when it sounds exactly the fucking same as everyone else's shit, and Jay-Z doesn't need to sound like anyone else: everyone else is still trying to sound like him, for fuck's sake. Since I don't give a shit about “Crown”, I'm sure at least one person will claim it as their favorite song in the comments below. Bleh.



9. HEAVEN

That callback to R.E.M.'s “Losing My Religion” was cheesy as fuck: I was actually embarrassed for Hova at that point. However, I actually really liked “Heaven” otherwise: Jay-Z uses the Timbo beat (which also utilizes another Adrian Younge sample - what can I say, dude is hot right now) to discuss religion and the nature of free will, making sure to never outright dismiss religion because why would he want to alienate fans?, but while making it somewhat clear where he falls on the belief spectrum. Which makes this song all about the Illuminati, obviously. This was unexpected, but the nice kind of unexpected.



10. VERSUS

A one-verse wonder where Shawn unloads a half-thought (and an interesting shout-out to A Tribe Called Quest – I thought Q-Tip was allegedly supposed to have worked on this album, too?) over a Timbaland / Swizz Beatz contribution that gets utterly wasted, given how uninterested Hova sounds on here. Anyway...



11. PART II (ON THE RUN) (FEAT. BEYONCE)

Jay-Z used to frequently write sequels to his more popular songs (“Dead Presidents II”, “Who You Wit II”, “Friend Or For '98”, the recently-leaked “Dead Presidents 3”), but the track he decides to revisit when going back to that particular well is... "'03 Bonnie & Clyde"? The fuck? Why not just go with “I Still Know What Girls Like”? While it's cute to hear the married parents of Blue Ivy sing each other's praises and claim to ride for one another (like any couple should), I never actually gave a shit about “'03 Bonnie & Clyde”, as I found it too cheesy (and to be too much of a 2Pac rip-off), so you can imagine all of the fucks I give about this slickly-produced retread.



12. BEACH IS BETTER

Mike Will Made It made this, which should have been the highlight of his career at this point, landing a beat on a Jay-Z project, but “Beach Is Better” is another ill-advised one-verse wonder like “Versus”, one that also doesn't go anywhere because Hova isn't interested enough to allow that to happen. Weird.



13. BBC (FEAT. NAS (UNCREDITED))

Sounds like the missing link between Robin Thicke's potentially sexist, rapist-friendly “Blurred Lines” (depending on who you ask) and The Roots' “In Love With The Mic”, and is just as contagious as both of those aforementioned tracks. Hell, guest star Nas seems to be enjoying himself for the first time since...well, I'm sure Kelis made him happy for a little while, anyway. Jay has gone on record as stating that “BBC” (which is not about a channel in the UK that produces Doctor Who and Orphan Black) was the most fun song on Magna Carta... Holy Grail to record, and it shows. Pharrell's instrumental bounces along and practically smiles at the audience, while everyone involved has a good enough time, even the A-list names who contribute ad-libs and such (Timbo, Skateboard P, Swizz Beatz, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce). I'm still not sure why Nas didn't receive a proper album credit for appearing on here, but I still dug this one.



14. JAY-Z BLUE

The song, which is not meant to be confused with Jay-Z's actual ode to his daughter, “Glory”, works in a sound bite from Mommie Dearest, an interesting choice for a rap song that could have easily veered into disturbing territory. Far more serious and darker than “Glory” ever could be: on here, Hova plays the role of a terrified father who wants so badly to be a good dad, but just can't bring himself to shed his selfish impulses. Kind of interesting, especially as it pretty much turns into Jay-Z's version of The Notorious B.I.G.'s “My Downfall” (Hova even reuses some of Biggie's vocals, in another callback, albeit an annoying one, to his own past work), but the execution falters a bit, as the audience is left questioning just how one is supposed to feel about Shawn after this trip through his mindstate. Kudos for going dark, though: 'Ye does it all the goddamn time, but Jay tends to stick to the rivers and lakes that he's used to.



15. LA FAMILIA

In a past life, this song probably would have featured cameos from Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel, and maybe even Rell, and Amil might have rapped a bit on the hook or some shit, depending on if she got off from her shift at Target in time. However, Jay-Z drops friends and coworkers almost as often as he picks up athlete's contracts for sports management purposes (unless said friends happens to be successful in his own right, which is probably why he's still cool with Kanye at this point), so Hova uses “La Familia” in a more general sense when talking about his generic “friends” and “family”, which is weird, as he may as well be rapping about the photos of his money that he keeps on his phone (which, let's be honest, is probably not a Samsung). This was boring as shit, and kind of useless, since he basically already wrote about this same subject for his verse on Big Sean's “Clique”. Speaking of Bleek, to paraphrase a tweet Hannibal Buress sent out during Hova's Twitter Q&A, do you two think that Hova still runs with Memphis Bleek and still financially supports him, or do you think that ship has sailed? Discuss.



16. NICKELS & DIMES

Kyambo Joshua's instrumental, which samples Gonjasufi's "Nikels and Dimes", is actually pretty fucking interesting, and Jay uses it to his advantage, running through some different variations on what the title could stand for, turning in a serious track about doing whatever it takes to take care of his family and friends. For Jay, this is as easy as whipping out his checkbook, but he still manages to make it sound engaging enough. He also manages to drop a quick reference to Lady Gaga, which was the only bit of levity provided. A pretty good way to end things.

THE LAST WORD:  Yes, Shawn is beyond rich at this point, and yes, his rhymes should run the risk of completely alienating the audience he's attempting to court, because his life experiences in no way reflect those of the average listener.  However, the reason why Jay-Z is still around today is because the audience has been able to track his progress since Reasonable Doubt: Shawn Corey Carter is the living embodiment of the American dream, and the hip hop heads who have followed his career through its various incarnations have witnessed his ascension firsthand, which gives them an added bit of emotional investment in his success.  We feel that, if it happened to Jay, it can truly happen to anyone.  This is how he can get away with pulling stunts such as announcing an album out of the blue and dropping it less than one month later without any singles promoting it.  As for the actual album itself, after sitting with this one for a few days, I feel that Magna Carta... Holy Grail will actually have more staying power than Jay-Z's last solo album, The Blueprint 3.  It's the anti-Yeezus, in that Jay eschews any attempt at deviation in favor of creating a more traditional rap album, but he does so with style.  The beats, mostly provided and/or honed by Timbaland, hit harder and take more risks than we're used to hearing on a Jay-Z project, and Hov's conversational flow remains as slick as it ever had been.  Obviously, not every song works: there are some on here that I won't ever punish myself by sitting through again.  But it's to our host's credit that there are more hits than misses.  Not a perfect album by any means, and it could have benefited from some actual experimentation and one hundred percent less Rick Ross, but it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable than his last album, even if it comes nowhere close to the heights of his storied career.  Let me know how you feel about it below.

-Max

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48 comments:

  1. "The Dynasty: ROC la Familia" had a Kanye Beat. "This Can't Be Life" featuring Scarface if I remember correctly.

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    1. Please see below.

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    2. That beat on the Dynasty 1 took Kanye to a new echelon in regards to producing. Took him one more step up. One of his best.

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  2. AnonymousJuly 14, 2013

    "Although Magna Carta... Holy Grail is the first Jay-Z solo album since 2000's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia to not include any Kanye West production..."

    Yeah, that's not true. Ye produced "This Can't Be Life" from that album. And he didn't have any beats on American Gangster. Sorry to be a stickler, but I gotta.

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    1. You guys are correct, but you're also misinterpreting the words. What I'm saying is that every single Jay-Z album SINCE The Dynasty has contained Kanye production. I could have worded the sentence differently, but I believe it still says what I mean.

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    2. And also, yes, technically, but Kanye DID appear on "Roc Boys (And The Winner Is...)", so I'm counting that.

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  3. several things:

    1) Kanye West did actually produce a joint on that Dynasty album, 'This cant be life' with scarface and beanie sigel; that track is quite good aswell

    2) I'm suprised you managed to conceal your orgasm about Timbaland and how much you love him working with Jay-Z.

    3) Do you predict in the future this album will be ranked as his 4th best album as he said in the interview that he was fighting for?

    4) What do you think of 'Open Letter' and 'Dead Presidents 3'

    5) 'Crown' sounds like that shit from Yeezus

    6) 'Picasso Baby' sounds good, reminds me back on the intro of 'In my lifetime, Vol. 1' with them two preem tracks back to back. More rappers should do this.

    Good Album (and review!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) See above.

      2) That was a younger Max who was more impressed with Timbaland's work.

      3) Probably not.

      4) Meh and haven't sat down to fully digest it yet.

      5) No comment.

      6) Yes. This.

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    2. 4th my ass! He just threw that out there. American Gangster is better so is Dynasty and probably Vol.1 It can fight for 7th

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  4. If only he didn't make the American dream seem so fucking unappealing. Jay-Z has become a disgustingly bloated symbol of gluttonous capitalism and corporate greed. Here's a comfortable artist doing comfortable shit. He sounds so goddamn tame and uninteresting. I don't want to hear about how you buy expensive paintings and sculptures in order to validate your own existence on this planet. Do you even appreciate the art you buy, or is it some perverse way to justify your obscenely gargantuan back account?
    Also, I cannot stomach his and Kanye's attempts at sounding "deep" or "provocative." Why does this album have this title? Anyone? ANYONE? If I farted into a tape recorder and titled my album "Clouds of Olympus... The Golden Fleece," would it automatically become a profound artistic statement? No, it wouldn't. Fucking rappers need to learn to be thematically consistent. Have some fucking integrity. Fuck.

    Fuck!

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    Replies
    1. Fucking fuck fuck!

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    2. AnonymousJuly 16, 2013

      I'm actually curious about this too. What's the significance of the title? Is it just to sound sophisticated? Also...am I the only one who wishes he had named it 'Magna CARTER'?

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    3. AnonymousJuly 18, 2013

      wiki 'Magna Carta' and you will find out...

      Delete
  5. oh boy did i NOT like this album. Im as much of a Jay fan as you Max, but i just didnt find anything he said on here to be that interesting. And BBC pissed me off cause he has Nas on a track and thats what they did with it. I say this because i've heard them on better songs together. But yeah, this album disappointed me

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    1. In my opinion, the only actual "good" Nas/Jay-Z song is "Black Republican", and that's due more to the beat than anything else. But I liked the fact that Nas actually sounded like he was having some goddamn fun on "BBC", for once in his life, given my constant critiques that he takes this rap shit far too seriously.

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  6. I found "Somewhereinamerica" to be the best and worst track in the album all the same, if only because that beat could probably end up being the most complete beat I've heard this year, and Jay's actual verse WAS something rather relatable: you're the first reviewer (thank God) to summarize that Shawn's life is something we, as hip-hop heads, are bound to follow.. so essentially, his penetration of high society is something that hasn't been done. Simply put, Kanye tries to be high society and gets rejected like Tiger Woods at his high school prom; Jay just walks in, buys everything out, and automatically gets invitations to hang out with Buffett, Gates & Co.

    Of course, the only complaint I had about the album was that it truly resembled Mos Def's True Magic in that there are too many unfinished tracks, especially from Hov, who usually is a three-verses-and-a-hook type of rapper. You're right that he took more risks, but he definitely didn't fall in the water for it, and seemed at least a lot more inspired this album... I credit that to Timbo though, because he was in rough shit prior to this (addicted to pills) and finally found a chance to regain his career.

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  7. AnonymousJuly 14, 2013

    "Amil might have rapped a bit on the hook or some shit, depending on if she got off from her shift at Target in time."
    I can't stop laughing.

    I will say, the production on this is pretty great (Timbo and that JRoc guy who most likely does all the work, are on a roll) and Hova's most experimental. And when he's got a theme for the song, his lyrics sound inspired. It's only when he brags it becomes tiresome. I'd give it a 3 outta 5.

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  8. AnonymousJuly 14, 2013

    "but it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable than his last album, even if it comes nowhere close to the heights of his storied career". So Jay-Z is given a pass for making something that's far below what he's capable of, but when Nas makes Life Is Good(which rips this album a new asshole, by the way) you criticize him for "taking it to seriously" or basically trying to hard? WOW

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  9. AnonymousJuly 14, 2013

    I enjoyed blueprint 3 a lot more than this. I actually enjoyed Yeezus a lot more than this. Basically what I'm trying to say is that this album is total garbage.

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  10. "somewhereinamerica" is the only fresh track on this album. "Picasso Baby" is cool but sounds like the Premo track the commentor already said or previously said and also "It's Hot(some like it hot) off vol 3 timbo did which both included better performances by Hov lyrically(and Tim's production was more fresh on that).

    Surprised you enjoyed this one off the "gut" as much as you did. I grew bored really quick of this album, and that JT track felt like torture enduring, while "BBC" was one of the most pointless songs Shawn has made to this date and good waste of a decent Nas over Pharrells "Yacht Music".

    Project is below Kingdom Come(Lost One, and "Oh my God" eclipse anything on here)ore sure and sounds like a Blueprint 2 type record cohesively.

    1% rap at its finest I guess(shrug).

    Nice swipes at Robin Thicke tho. Haha

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  11. AnonymousJuly 15, 2013

    So let me get this straight...

    You think this album has more "hits than misses", yet you think Life is Good is "an annoying experience occasionally broken up with flashes of brilliance"?

    Admit that you are biased, my good man.

    Ask any other voracious hip-hop fan such as yourself and he WILL point that out for you.

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    Replies
    1. I wear my biases on my sleeve, but ultimately what you're missing is that I'm not comparing Jay-Z to Nas. YOU are. I feel that comparison would be ridiculous at best. When compared to his other work, Jay-Z's album has more hits than misses; when compared to his other work, Life Is Good has some good production, but is lyrically below what Nas is capable of.

      Why does everyone insist on comparing artists with each other? That's a foolish approach to take. The only guy I'm comparing Shawn to is Shawn.

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    2. AnonymousJuly 16, 2013

      I KNOW that I made the comparison.

      That was the whole point.

      Hip-hop, like any other form of art, has many factors that produce similar feelings from its very varied audience.

      It can be many things. Choices, circumstances, and the whatnot.

      Shawn & Nas, no matter how you put it, have made very similar choices in the past on much more than one occasion. From subject matter to production.

      Now don't get me wrong.

      I have absolutely no problem with you trashing Nas. I get a kick out of your sense of humor.

      Yet, to me, you trashing one & not the other is a little biased. I simply used this example to point that out for you.

      This is NOT intended to be a personal stab at you or anyone who shares your views on hip-hop.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013

      I might credit your opinion if you had a real account mr anonymous.( I'm Also anonymous though we aren't the same person.)

      Delete
    4. Life is good is better than this. And yeah, I've a bias towards Nas

      Delete
  12. AnonymousJuly 15, 2013

    Much better than Blueprint 3, but in general just a decent album. Since Nas name popped in I feel like I need to say that Life is good was at least a class higher than MCHG. My favorite song here is somewhereinamerica, followed by Picasso Baby (mostly cause of the beat), F.U.T.W. and Heaven. Two decent tracks like BBC and Jay Z Blue. The rest is just stupid or boring or both at the same time. Life is good on the other hand had Locomotive (better than everything Jay-Z has crafted after hard knock life), The Black Bond (a track that a commercial rapper like Jay Z won't ever think of doing again). Then you have Daughters, A Queen's Story, Nasty and Cherry Wine(all of them above the decent level) and the rest of the album (except of Accident Murderers and Summer on smash which really might cause nausea) is decent. Jay Z will always be just an OK rapper and a greedy businessman to me. I would rather side with a rapper trying to bring back the old school sound, even if it is an effort that can't succeed in today's gay tendency (check for Kanye West's latest effort which some people call ''craft'').

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    1. hows it feel knowing Nas comments on your blog Max?

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    2. "today's gay tendency." what the fuck is that supposed to mean?

      Delete
  13. AnonymousJuly 15, 2013

    Timbo and Pharrel are killing shit right now.

    Albums from both of these in the vain of "The Chronic" would be welcomed greatly by my self.

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  14. AnonymousJuly 15, 2013

    Who's Shawn carter?please review soulja boy. Best rapper alive!

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    Replies
    1. Barack ObamaJuly 15, 2013

      I approve this message.

      Delete
  15. AnonymousJuly 15, 2013

    i think that this album is equally as good as yeezus. but this album is just consistently alright yeezus has 5 great songs and 5 bad songs i think you have to respect kanye more for taking the chances. mac millers new album is quality and im n ot a fan of his past work its worth a listen

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  16. I actually liked this album even though it feels rushed. I though the production was good, original even. The reason why I like this album is an emotional one if you could say that. I feel like Jay opened up a little bit more and was more honest than on his previous albums. It gave me the impression of a person that feels like he's torn between two worlds right now, of which one hasn't fully accepted him and probably never will and his former one, the background he comes from, reneged him. A misunderstood artist that tries to hide this by bragging about his wealth, but he still gives us hints through subliminals (for which Jay is known for). He still has a lot of money. And his family now.


    I saw someone mention Nas and I thought that he two released a great album with Life Is Good. And I'm glad we can enjoy 2 good, different styles of hip-hop albums done by 2 established legends in the genre.

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  17. AnonymousJuly 21, 2013

    More so than in any other genre of music, hip hop artists are constantly measuring themselves against their peers, and that's what sets it apart. I couldn't disagree more with the sentiment that its better to avoid comparisons in rap; how many times have you heard rappers proclaim themselves to be the best rapper alive? Its ingrained within the culture of the genre. That being said, since were all discussing Nas vs Hov, lyrically Jay-Z once again falls short of Nas, but that's to be expected. Lyrically Jay-Z isint and never has been in the same league with guys like Nas Eminem or Biggie. Where Jigga does shine though is the superb production(or rather, collection of talented producers) on this album, something that's always been his forte.

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  18. AnonymousJuly 22, 2013

    So apparently Jay Z has dropped the hyphen from his name for two years now, and nobody noticed until yesterday.

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  19. AnonymousJuly 25, 2013

    Life is good was superior

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  20. AnonymousJuly 25, 2013

    Nice review man; by the way though, do you think u can consider bringing back the "best tracks" section of your reviews?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'My Gut Reaction' posts don't have a 'Best Tracks' section. Never have, never will. Slightly different format than the "regular" reviews.

      Delete
  21. AnonymousJuly 25, 2013

    Could you bring back the Nicolas cage same name comments back?

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  22. AnonymousJuly 26, 2013

    best rappers in order
    1.Nas
    2.Eminem
    3.Biggie
    4.Jay-Z
    5.Big L

    ReplyDelete
  23. February 12th 2007
    Magna Carta Holy Grail (July 4th 2013)

    Jay-Z released a twelfth album called Magna Carta Holy Grail.
    That's all I got.

    1. Holy Grail (featuring Justin Timberlake)
    No Intro!

    2. Picasso Baby
    I like the second beat better than the first.

    3. Tom Ford
    This was enjoyable.

    4. fuckwithmeyouknowigotit (featuring Rick Ross)
    Still hate Rick Ross.

    5. Oceans (featuring Frank Ocean)
    Shouldn't all the songs on Watch the Throne be called 'Wests'?

    6. F.U.T.W
    Timbo's beat is the tits again

    7. somewhereinamerica
    killing my spellchecker...

    8. Crown
    Fuck this shit.

    9. Heaven
    ...I'd rather go to Hell

    10. Versus
    Interlude...

    11. Part II (On the Run) (featuring Beyonce)
    Meh

    12. Beach is Better
    Interlude...

    13. BBC
    Jay-Z definitely won the beef between himself and Nas

    14. Jay-Z Blue
    Jay-Z get off Big's dick.

    15. La Familia
    This song is better than that whole Dynasty album.

    16. Nickles and Dimes
    From the Nicolas Cage film of the same name.

    Final Thoughts: Jay-Z released a CLASSIC!

    Buy or Burn: Get off my dick and get on Jays and Buy this shit already! Hova!

    Best Tracks: All of them!

    -Max

    (see how shit that review was Max? This was the shit you was doing in 2007. Revisit your older albums and only the classic albums if you've got no time! Peace!)

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    Replies
    1. This is just hilarious to me.

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    2. He's right though. You should go back to reviewing albums like that, it was hilarious.

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    3. But he's not asking for me to review albums like that; he's asking, like others have in the past, for me to go back and rewrite my older reviews, which I have no interest in doing, if only for my own sanity. Also, if I keep going backward, I'll never finish, blah blah blah.

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    4. I think he's asking you to poorly review albums from... the future?

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  24. Jay often sounds like he's aping the flows and musical sounds of 2 Chainz and that whole scene on this album.

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