Review: Jay-Z – “Magna Carta Holy Grail”



Magna Carta Holy Grail

Universal/Roc-A-Fella – July 4th 2013
By Elyse Hill (@elyselikeswords)
Find it at: iTunes | Insound | HMV Digital





To state the obvious, Magna Carta Holy Grail is no Yeezus. Though it may be a masterpiece of sorts in its own right, with too-close-for-comfort release dates, familiar discussions of race and success, and references to Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit”, it’s as if Jay warranted these comparisons. Looking for a bit of friendly competition? Tough loss, Hov. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly he went wrong, for an all-star lineup of features and production names should arguably add up to an unforgettable twelfth studio album. But where the build of pulse racing production gets cut before it has the chance to explode (“Beach is Better”), and fusions of faint beats, lulling flow and incoherent synth lines on the album’s latter half (“La Familia”) test your attention span, Jay-Z’s product suddenly doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. He frustrates with gasp-inducing one-liners that show flashes of his capabilities, only to cause doubt with cringe worthy quips, like: “My past ain’t pretty, my lady is/ My Mercedes is”

Borrowing lyrics from Nirvana (“Holy Grail”), A Tribe Called Quest (“Versus”) and R.E.M. (“Heaven”) only comes off as weak fillers for writers block in an album that may have been premature, and immediate pop culture allusions that heavily influence tracks like “Somewhere In America” don’t exactly make for a record of lasting presence. Miley hasn’t been twerking for that long, right? For all its pitfalls, Jay still manages to find highs that command attention and live up to the widespread hype Magna Carta promised. He contrasts black oppression and slavery with his own gaudy success on the grandiose “Oceans”, and boasts his greatness over light piano trills and coos that will have you bowing down on “F.U.T.W.”. And for all the big names on M.C.H.G., the culmination of collabs comes together in “BBC”, the high-energy snapshot of a celebrity-filled Carter soiree. If you were expecting his July 4th album release to bring fireworks, you may find Jay-Z played it safe with sparklers, though God be damned if it doesn’t still burn.

Listen: “Oceans”, “Tom Ford”, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” || Watch: “Holy Grail (ft. Justin Timberlake)”


  • D-Sanity says:

    This is a masterpiece of an album and it is much better than Yeezus. This is not to say that Yeezus is a weak production but it cannot compare to feel of lost school sound Hov put on. Just reminds you of Jay Z doing the first Blueprint.

  • TIM says:

    I thought this was the worst Jay-Z album to date. It should be called “Lazy Carta, Holy Waste”. I dont listen to a lot of rap. In fact Jay-Z’s Black album introduced me to him and I was hooked but this album is nothing more than a headache. Great hooks with shitty lyrics, shitty hooks with great lyrics and constant bragging. Go figure the only song he seemed to put time into had his wife singing in it. I wondered how many times I would have to hear him mention Blue or Ivv. It was the first lyric of the first song. You would think he would learn from eminem when he constantly brought up Hayley. Not that Im not happy for him, but rap about something we can connect to. So much money, that I think he has lost his creation here. Glad to see some people like it – but I couldnt find value in the 14.99 I spent and always thought if Jay-Z was gonna create hype (samsung commercials, articles and interviews) and have such a name, that he might back it up. If this is the direction rap is going, then its dead to me…

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