What Went Wrong With… Jay-Z & Magna Carta Holy Grail?

Caricature of Jay-Z with Roc-A-Fella logo and Pyramid by What Went Wrong With

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.

17 replies »

  1. Ugh yes! I’ve been saying for years that the rap game left Jay behind and this album totally proved me right. Rap has been getting more progressive and Jay has just been sitting in his cradle of a comfort zone, he’s antiquated. Kanye’s album makes Magna Carta look beyond lazy: the angry social justice commentator versus a fat and happy has been.

    • Oh I agree that Kanye’s a dick but I think he’s actually very self aware. Not saying he isn’t a narcissistic asshole, but I believe he’s very aware of the system he’s a part of and he even touches on it in Yeezus, “you see it’s broke n**** racism, that’s that don’t touch anything in the store; and it’s rich n**** racism, that’s that please come in and buy more”. Idk I thought his album was pretty complex and showed he still isn’t ready to settle and has something to say rather than Jay Z’s which brought nothing to the game. Love all of your articles though! Even the ones I don’t totally agree with 🙂

    • Thanks! On the subject of Kanye, I think that he is aware of the fact that his fans are split 50/50 between Hip-Hop & indie Pop fans. I think his album is a testament to that. “Yeezus” was the kind of track that seemed evolved, but the production was something which underground dub and grime producers have been doing for a decade or so. Compared to other Hip-Pop rappers like Jay-Z, he seems a tad better, but if compared to underground Hip-Hop, I think most people would agree that Kanye is way below average in both lyrical content and delivery. Even in the album Yeezus, joints like “On Site” kept reverting to noughties sounding garbage, so in that respect he is only an album away from making his own “Magna Carta”.

    • Kanye is a joke too. Hip Hop has been corrupted the same way Rock music was years ago with all the Satanic and occult based imagery that see you from these joke rappers like Jay Z, Kanye, and Lil Wayne.

      Most of all, it’s the music industry that promotes this trash occult influenced garbage in all genres. There’s a lot of great rappers out there that sing positive stuff (same with Heavy Metal bands, but you wouldn’t know it since thy push the satanic shit to the fore front) but they aren’t getting the promotion from the record labels or the spots on TV. It’s a rigged game!

  2. I made a audio video which examined Jay Z & his plagirism of Slick Rick , Biggie etc lyrics many years ago .. The video & account is now closed but you can find similar ones which are updated & continue to expose him.

    Google… Jay Z biter . Or.. Jay Z stolen rhymes …And follow the trail of the serial plagiarist

    • Jay Z was good back in the day but somehow all that wealth status and fame has destroyed his calling and his wife isn’t no better than him.Why won’t they sign or discover new talent instead of bragging about what they got it’s getting very tiresome and boring what has become of our culture and society.

  3. Even though I respect your opinion, I have to disagree with you on Jay-Z. He has always been one of my favorite rappers of all time. He may have fallen off; but in late 90s/ early 00s, he released solid music. Reasonable Doubt, Vol 2, The Blueprint, and The Black Album are great albums. He was a dope mc at the time. Now he is not putting any effort into his music. He thinks that people will buy his music, no matter how shitty it is. His verse on Drake’s Pound Cake was one of the worst verses I have heard in a long time.
    Jay Z has become the new Snoop Dogg. Someone who will do anything for the money.

    • Reasonable Doubt was a great album, in fact everything he did with Jaz-O/Ski/Clark Kent/Sauce Money etc. was great. The more he did tracks with Neptunes/Timbaland etc. he got progressively worse in my opinion. Plus he was the forerunner of New York trying to sound Southern and that’s been detrimental to Hip-Hop.

    • I never listened to 4:44 because I don’t have an overpriced subscription to Tidal, if it was available on Spotify I would have reviewed it on the day it was released. By all accounts it’s a decent album but every time I hear people bigging up a Jay-Z LP it never matches up to Reasonable Doubt when I get around to listening to it.

  4. If Jay-Z’s latest album was decent then what is this song from Jay-Z’s long-ago friend O.C. and Apathy ?

    O.C. and Apathy’s album “Perestroika” is the best of the year . Not to mention the album “Magic and Bird” dropped this year by Andy Mineo & Wordsplayed (for listeners who enjoy a mainstream trap-like sound) and Wise Intelligent’s 2 albums “The Blue Klux Klan” and “Game Of Death” . And this Gift Of Gab track featuring A-F-R-O and R.A. The Rugged Man .

    I already posted most of these songs but I believe that they are among the best of 2017 .

    (I corrected Xele Fonte’s comment in the comment’s section when he claimed that underground legend Vakill was white . I do think Makhno should have cut out the “N Word” out of the sample . Still his comment was very disrespectful to Junior Makhno’s , Esoteric’s and Diabolic’s herculean contributions to underground hip hop in / by insinuating that they are culture vultures or racist . Xele Fonte clearly knows little about underground hip hop . Diabolic was co-signed by Immortal Technique , Poison Pen and the late , great Pumpkin Head . Esoteric was co-signed by Reef The Lost Cauze , Chief Kamachi , King Magnetic , REKS , Blacastan , Doap Nixon , DJ Premier and Inspectah Deck . )

    (One Be Lo has a Hulk Hogan reference in this song . And this was written after Hogan’s racism was exposed in 2015 . It’s odd because One Be Lo is an African American Muslim community activist in Michigan . )

    Jay-Z doesn’t deserve the attention he gets . I believe rappers like O.C. , Apathy , A-F-R-O , R.A. , Gift Of Gab , Wordsplayed , Andy Mineo , Esham , Wise Intelligent , Diabolic , Esoteric , Vakill and One Be Lo deserve much more recognition . Plus what has Jay-Z done for Big Daddy Kane , Jaz-O , Sauce Money and O.C. lately ?

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