MAGNA CARTER REVIEW
Already a couple weeks post-public release, ‘Magna Carta… Holy Grail’ (MCHG), the twelfth solo studio record by Jay-Z, receives its eclectic and sudden collection of reviews from the public and celebrities alike. With a record that was instantly highly anticipated due to the rappers global prominence, and a record that had set itself up to be heavily equated to the latest studio release by Kanye West, one could only follow suit with the masses that hate it or the masses that love it. Where do you position yourself when you’re asked about MCHG? Lets talk through it.
When you hear a Jay-Z song and dissect the lyrics, it would be predictable to hear the rapper brag his usual swagger throughout; compulsively listing his sales achievements, destinations and celebrity companions, his collection of Basquiats, Maybachs, and Hublot watches. Though those topics remain apparent in just a few of his wordplays, you will also notice that most of the record is in pursuit of less of a vainglorious personality, and more of an ambivalent feeling. So from a recording artist that has everything—business accolades, fame, high-end vehicles and threads, and of course, an exceptionally beautiful and talented wife—he begins ponder, “what it’s all for?”
The album title, ‘Magna Carta… Holy Grail’ takes inspiration from one of the most celebrated documents in English history, regarded as the cornerstone of liberty, law and democracy: “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.” Under the influence of those famous words, you hear Jay-Z genuinely struggle on the album. He visits the subjects of faith, superstition, and freethinking on the ninth track titled, “Heaven;” he worries about whether he’s capable of educating his daughter the correct values of life, given that his father never did for him on “Jay Z Blue (Daddy Dearest),” he contrasts the thoughts of slave ships with luxury yachts on, “Oceans,” and wonders whether giving people handouts is just his way to moderate things over his successful departure from the streets of Brooklyn on the album’s finale, “Nickels And Dimes.”
MCHG’s concept isn’t arrogant or completely defined, its just Jay-Z wanting you to hear him think aloud, as he is conflicted with personal and sensitive queries. You’ll find that a similar idea was taken when Kanye released the album ‘808 And Heartbreaks,’ and added to that comparison, ‘Magna Carta… Holy Grail’ was seen to be an experimental and transitional album, leading to what would hopefully be a better-defined and intimate record, much like the follow-up to 808, ‘My Beautiful Twisted Fantasy’.
To conclude, ‘Magna Carta… Holy Grail’ delivers a pleasing handful of contagiously entertaining hits (“Picasso Baby”, “Tom Ford”, “Somewhere In America”, and “Heaven”). Though some of the other tracks are easily categorized as filler music due to the lack of interesting production—an issue many critics have been very vocal about because their still fresh off Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ and El-P & Killer Mike’s ‘Run The Jewels’—its should be safe to say at least, Jay-Z remained lyrically rich throughout this LP, and that certainly he has brought a better effort of what is remembered from the collaborative project, ‘Watch The Throne.’
“There is no greater pain than bearing an untold story inside you” Marco Pelayo