Album Review: Magna Carta…Holy Grail by Jay Z

Jay Z

Shawn Carter has a wealth of knowledge that expands beyond most. When you’ve been around the block as many times as this man has, the experiences and references become embedded in the lyricism easier then a snap of the finger.

With Justin Timberlake opening the album (much like Frank opened WTT), there’s conviction in his voice as he speaks on the struggles of unrequited love. Just as the beat sends our eardrums into oblivion, Hov enters the building. “Holy Grail” sets the tone early and the bar high thanks to a quartet of beatmakers and a little teen spirit.

We already know about those red bottoms packed in that checkered trunk, trunked in that bubble-double R, en route to that PJ. But the kind of swagger King Hova speaks about is of a unique nature, and attempting to compare, is mission impossible. “Tom Ford” is what we talking about. Jay slaughters ‘trend’ with trend, in casual fashion of course. Timbaland chops up the quintessential beat for SC to brush his shoulders off as he “fucks hashtags and retweets.”

Paris where we been, pard’ my Parisian

The man rolls with the Obama’s, the Ye’s, the Rubin’s, the Durant’s, the Cruise’s and the Ford’s, he hangs with Warhol and Basquiat, flaunting is the repertoire, it’s inevitable. However, the decision to alter the architecture each time around is a choice. “Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa/The modern day version with better features/Yellow Basquiat in my kitchen corner/Go ‘head, lean on that shit Blue, you own it.” Papa J is clearly proud of his accomplishments, as he should be, this of course includes his family. Integrating your FamJam into ‘what’s cool’ isn’t something you hear everyday in Hip Hop, but Mr. Carter does it with ease. The subject remains unilateral; the illusive good life. Only this guy has found a less redundant delivery method.

Come through with the ‘Ye mask on / Spray everything like SAMO, I won’t scratch the Lambo

As the aforementioned bars come from “Picasso Baby,” lets take a second to point out this mans love for art. On the surface, you may notice Mr. Carter traded in a musky concrete wall for a couple Warhols, but with a keen ear and numerous listens; the man might take you to art school. This passion went far enough to shoot the music video inside the Museum of Modern Art and broadcast it on HBO. Track two also inspired the overall sound for MCHG – key producer J-Roc described it as “just New York.” On that note, “Oceans” found a home here despite being recorded nearly two years ago, as it was intended for Watch The Throne. It fits beautifully, and sometimes certain things are too valuable to pass up.

Silk and fleeces, lay on my Jesus / Oh my god I hope y’all don’t get see-sick

Do you remember when Blueprint 3 received questions marks surrounding the production and personnel? Once again, Magna Carta has brought new sounds to Jay Z’s round table. There is heavy involvement from Timbaland, who clearly re-discovered his groove this year, Pharrell, a usual suspect, and recruitment also included the likes of Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, Mike Will and Travis Scott. When working with Jay Z, you’re forced to elevate your game, which is a lesson these producers were clearly aware of.

“Versus” throws it right back to Reasonable Doubt; the beat, the vibe and most importantly the flow. The once Marcy Project resident has yet to forget his roots. The diversity in Jay Z’s arsenal still astounds me; he can spit that ironic humour in the booth, mellow out, find depth, go sultry, and unleash those bars of fury that’ll put you in your place. One thing that’s never lost on him, regardless of the mood in the booth, is his attention to detail. It might take 20, 30, 40 listens to decode a track, or the understanding might never surface.

Come money dance with the Good Fellas / Hov keep getting that Deniro, got it / even if a nigga got to Robert, get it / Black jack in the Casino

Magna Carta…Holy Grail has helped re-ignite Timbo The Kings creativity, inspired a stare down with the legendary Marina Abramović, revised the RIAA’s policies, reunited two of the greatest emcees, and created a S_C Twitter spree. New sound, new architecture, new content, new rules – Jay Z is synonymous with legend.

Jay Z

Available on iTunes

Note: First Week Sales – 528,000 (+1,000,000 from Samsung App)
Written by AHM Admin


  1. Wonderful review!!! I especially enjoyed how you ended it! Jay Z is a legend indeed.
    P.S Thank you for stopping by & liking my post on “Picasso Baby”. I truly love that video!


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