MAGNA CARTA HOLY GRAIL : REVIEW
By: Raymond Padya
Shawn Corey Carter (Jay-Z) has never been the same after his daughter Blue Ivy Carter was born. Being a father has made him question everything that he has done and all that he aspires to do.
In his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail, which sold a million copies to Samsung before it was released, it’s more like he was trying to clear his conscience. It’s about him trying to traverse through success; through everything that he has done, he tries to make sense out of it all.
Unlike his previous albums, Blue Print 3 and Watch the Throne that were so ambitious, Jay-Z took a minimalist approach to MCHG. The whole album has one storyline; it takes you in a drift all the way through.
The album intro titled Holy Grail featuring Justin Timberlake, sets the tone for the whole album. You start by hearing Timberlake’s pleasant voice syncing with a lovely piano melody for the first part of the song singing about love, then slowly the beat changes to a hip pop beat as Jay-Z comes in. He sings about how fame can trap someone in trying to achieve something that they can’t grasp. He mentions MC Hammer, Mike Tyson and Kurt Cobain, all of whose careers ended badly and were left with nothing.
“Got dammit I like it. The bright lights is enticing. But look what it did to Tyson. All that money in one night. 30 mill for one fight. But soon as all the money blows, all the pigeons take flight…”
Wasting no time, Jay-Z gets straight to business with the second song on the album titled Picasso baby. Rapping on a wicked beat produced by Timberland, Jay-Z talks about how one can have certain dreams and aspirations such as profits, fame, but only to realise later that there is more to life than fame such as family and happiness. This track is truly a classic.
Another hit song in MCHG is Oceans, featuring Frank Ocean. The beat on this track is almost like that on their previous collaboration Welcome to America. This song gets you in that vibe where you just start imagining happy moments. Oceans is a celebratory song, Jay-Z looks at where he is now and where he came from. Not only does he look at his roots but also looks at America’s roots.
“I’m anti-Santa Maria Only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace”. Clearly, he is against Christopher Columbus being named the founder of America.
There is a song in the album titled Heaven, produced by Pharell Williams and it has been criticised by many critics for its controversial lyrics. The chorus goes…
“Have you ever been to heaven? Have you ever seen the gates? Have you bowed unto your highness? And do you know how heaven taste? Knock me down”
In this song Jay-Z was rapping about the idea of experiencing heaven or hell on earth. He is telling people to accept other people’s ideas no matter what religion they are. He questions heaven, he questions religion, it’s like he is saying he has his own way of being religious.
There is also a terrific Rick Ross collaboration in MCHG, F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt. This track is all about shinning and Rick Ross’ catchy hook “F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” can get your head bobbing in no time. So if you want to shine in your car and just drive around playing loud hip pop music, this is the track to play.
The track Blue shows how matured and responsible Jay-Z has become since being a father. He raps about his karma, saying that his father left when he was young and he never taught him how to be a father or a husband. He exposes his fears of not being a good father and husband. Mixed with some Notorious BIG vocals, this track is a work of art.
What stands out in MCHG is a combination of two things; amazing beats mainly handled by Timberland and Jerome Harmon and Jay-Z’s lyrical content and Jay-Z e tells his life story in such a way that anyone can relate.
The album produced at Jungle Beats hit the markets on 8 July 2013 and forget about its first week sales because MCHG went platinum before it was even released. Jay-Z wanted to set new rules for hip pop. He wanted to prove that sales don’t matter anymore in hip pop but it has become a business entity.
There are 16 tracks in total in MCHG and it also features guest appearances by Nas and Beyoncé Knowles.
The outro of the album, Nickels and Dimes leaves you hungry for more. Jay-Z raps about his deeds, if he has done more harm than good to his fans and friends.
“I gave some money to this guy, he got high as hell. Now I’m part of the problem far as I could tell. Did I do it for him or do it for myself”.
Looking at other hip pop albums produced this year, MCHG stands out on top due to its sales and publicity. However, its not Jay-Z’s greatest work, it’s a very good album but it cant be compared to The Black Album, The Blueprint, etc.