From the minute we hear Jay-Z’s faux-A$AP-Rocky flow on the first track of Magna Carta… Holy Grail, we are reminded of how tired this old rapper has now become. Jay-Z has gone from being a wannabe Jaz-O, wannabe Biggie, wannabe Nas, wannabe Russell Simmons, to wannabe credible. With his latest album, who knows what the fuck he wants to be?
Magna Carta is jam-packed with songs which jump from one style to the next without ever working out which flow or beat best represents an overrated has-been. By frantically dashing between Trap, Double-Time, Old-School & New-School, R&B, and Pop; each track tries to cater to everybody without ever focussing on what the album as a whole is supposed to represent.
Jay-Z has never been the same since the fathers of mainstream music began calling him son. Ever since he gave up on signing O.C. and Big L, stopped collaborating with Jaz, Sauce Money, and Tone Hooker; Jay has slowly become a lost and unfocussed rapper. With all the wealth in the world but none of the spirit, his latest effort shows how out of touch Mr. Carter is with present day people.
Tracks like “Picasso Baby” are littered with references to marble floors and other rich dick’s possessions. With lines like “I want a billion… I want a trillion” and all the references to “Maybach’s” and “Bugatti’s”, this LP is a great example of what money can do to talent. Rapping about what you have, rather than what you represent, is what has destroyed Rap and Hip-Hop over the last fifteen years or so. Nobody cares how rich you are when your lyrics are this poor.
In the track “I’m A Prophet”, by trying to answer all the Illuminati criticism he has received, Jay’s retaliation ends up adding even more pseudo-religious garbage to the mix. With all its metaphorical misfires, it is hard to forget his past false-idol exploits such as his moniker Hova and the pyramid hand-signs. Sean Carter’s lyrics of grandeur have elevated his God Complex to a Messiah Complex with this track, but ironically; never has someone looked or sounded less divine. If God was a man; he would never rap so shitty.
When you’re so out of touch with contemporary culture as Jay-Z; it shows. From the aforementioned references to God and money, to the use of out-of-style production and collabo’s, never has the aural zeitgeist been so badly judged by an artist. By using Timbaland as Producer and then doing tracks with Rick Ross, Beyonce, and the whining whiteboy Justin Timberlake; Magna Carta ends up reading like some reject tracklist from the noughties. This tracklist is then juxtaposed by some of the weirdest attempts at sounding current, with tracks like “Tom Ford” making Jay-Z resemble a robot trying to recreate a contemporary song, with the inclusion of an M.I.A.-esque line at the opening and closing. With the Nirvana reference in “Holy Grail” and R.E.M. references in “I’m A Prophet”, the whole album sounds as though it’s pandering to Pop music, whilst simultaneously neglecting Hip-Hop; the end product is a shambolic mess. Never has a Hip-Hop album been filled with so many Pop-friendly kiss-ass lyrics and so many borrowed ideas. Magna Carta… Holy Grail is an album soaked in pure sell-out wackness.
Jay-Z fell off a long time ago. Magna Carta is not a comeback, it’s a testament of how not to make an album.
Carter Holy Fail.