Magna_Carta_Holy_Grail_CoverAfter a very good transitional “Watch The Throne” album, Jay-z surprisingly released a new album with again a lot of collaborations and samples taken from his musical wonderbox. With a name like “Magna Carta Holy Grail” -in reference to the historic Magna Carta , the set seemed to be placed for a powerful Jay-Z typical “gotta show the world that I’m the greatest” atmosphere or perhaps some epic full loaded album. But let me directly stop here: the only thing which can be named creative is the name of the album. No big revolution inside and no special never-heard tunes. You’ve guessed it: the album is not as powerful as its title and that is the main problem: the expectations for this album were set too high leading to a big deception. I had the feeling that despite of all the famous collaborations, the lyrics and the tracks globally remain uninspired halfway between a unfulfilled creative attempt to find something musically new and a hip-hop pop movement where the number of names after the word feat. seems to have commercially more importance than the real musical performance.  In some cases had the feeling that JayZ borrowed some samples from Kanye West (especially from 808s & Heartbreak ) and tracks like “Crown” are musically so near to Kanye’s “Im God” in Yeezus, pretend it’s a simple coincidence. The new trend of putting crazy sounds, overdriven guitars and autotuned vocals seems also to have reached JayZ, the later sung the for the rapper scene provocative “D.O.A” (Death of Autotunes). And one thing I don’t understand is why JayZ desperately tries to put Beyoncé aka B aka Young B in every track either through a rhyme or through a vocal passage.

To make it short you have three songs categories on this opus: the first is non-sense hip hop stuff in combination with a lot of guest appeareances. The second category contains the typical Blueprint series Jay-Z style: at this point no critics can be made as you will find all ingredients of Jay-Z style: no bad surprises only good stuff.
The third category contains all other tracks which are either experimental, too Kanye-West like or absolutely not matching the album’s atmosphere. And here you have the last critic point: the album explores too many different directions while losing the real hip hop spirit that JayZ tried to insufflate during his career. I have the feeling the album – released a few days after Yeesus – is a response to Kanye West or to artificially hype up a “sales battle” , the quintessence will certainly take place at the MTV Music Video Awards 2013.

But enough presentations lets analyze some of the tracks.

The First rack named “Holy Grail” features Justin Timberlake. It’s hard to understand why the Nirvana “Smells like Teen spirit” appears suddenly in this track. This track is not bad if you are a Justin fan but pretty senseless if you we’re expecting some really tough hip hop. The beat of the track was composed by Timbaland.

Picasso Baby

With this track you rediscover the pure Jay-Z touch like in the “Blueprint” or the “Black Album“- Series. And even the sensual French voice “Comment on dit nombre d’or ?” like in “Girls Girls” of “Blueprint” is back again.
Actually the track is divided in two songs or parts (it’s seems to be a new trend ) with a very harsh cut with again the sensual voice in the background and concludes with the last word : Picasso. The second part sounds a little bit like “99 Problems”. The message behind the track is linked to the fact that Jigga wanted to make tribute to popular artists such as, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons or even Mona Lisa.

Note: the finished clip will be available in a few days.

Tom Ford
Here you will recognize the Timbaland touch again. The sample is nice, the lyrics are senseless without any message: ok not really senseless as Jay-Z makes a critic of Twitter (wouah! Really scary ! 😉 ) and praises Tom Ford a numerous number of time. According to Jay-Z it’s a tribute to the couturier Tom Ford who designed a lot of suits for him and Beyoncé. I would say it’s a disguised advertisement for the brand, like Busta Rhymes did it with “Pass the Courvoisier”. I’m not completely sure if this kind of track has really its place on an artist’s album. Do listeners really want to pay to listen to this repetitive ballyhoo?

Let’s forget about the title which is not the most poetic one. The bass and the tiny electro bass gives this track a really catchy touch. You will directly recognize the Timbaland touch: this track will definitely lead you to turn up the volume and listen it in your car while driving around.

Actually when I first heard this track I thought it was composed to compete against “I’m God” by Kanye West, but then I read that it was composed by a 16 year old composer WondaGurl.

This is a typical Jay-Z track: a good chosen sample with an addictive sample (the original sample was composed/sung by Adrian Younge in his track “Reverie”). Here Jay-Z also changed his flow trying to renact 50Cent way of rapping. Do you remember Fifty’s typical G-Unit shout ? It sounds like that.

Part II (On the Run)
Here you are instantly boosted in another world. The cut is so over-mastered that the whole song either sounds like coming straight from a Destinys Child album. Sorry Jay-Z if we are buying your CD it’s for listening to real hard stuff not candy pop soup, – and everyone has now noticed it – your wife’s name is Beyonce.

Beach is better
It’s the shortest track of the album (0:56) and can be put in the electro-rap category with. Here we directly distinguish the Timbaland touch again with a lot of subtile details and mini-samples

Nothing to do with the Britsh Broadcasting  Company. Again here – and this seems to be a trend – the acronym  stands for a premieum street wear brand called Billionaire Boys Club. From the musical side, the track has a latin American style with a lot of cowbells and one may recognize the Cypress Hill style. Nas also appears in this song.

Final note:




Hiphop question of this summer ’13: Yeezus or Magna Carta Holy Grail ?

Don’t get me wrong, the album Magna Carta Holy Grail is not bad but if you expect something completely crazy Yeezus will be good pick. Kanye really explored something new (perhaps due to the fact he collaborated with Guy Manuel de Homen-Christo and Thomas Bangalter aka Daft Punk) although some parts are inaudible because there are too much of noises and overdriven samples. To sum up: if you want some Jay-Z style with a touch of Timbaland then Magna Carta is for you. The Kanye album is too innovative/experimental to be directly “understood”, it’s far away from “College Drop Out” or “Graduation” and will not make you dance or head nodding as Magna Carta.

And for your ears here is Yeezus:

Amazon MP3 Player for Magna Carta Holy Grail by Jay-Z