Jay Z- Magna Carta Holy Grail


By Andrew

Hip-hop is all about homage and photocopies, but we all know what happens when you photocopy a photocopy…and this release shows it. The derivative attitude towards the construction is not smart, its fucken lazy. Watch the Throne indeed – you better look over your shoulder, Jay-Z, Kanye wants your crown, Brutus style.

All the guesting in the world can’t save an album still existing in the realm of drive-bys, Cristal and convertible Caddies. Its not ‘Watch the Throne’, that’s for sure. There’s all the references to pop culture and finer art culture, but does it explode out of the blocks? No… Does it lazily roll past popping caps? Not really… Does it huff-and-puff like a fat man on his first cycling trip since he got a beer gut and rubbing together thighs? Probably…

‘Tom Ford’ is a great start to the album coming in at track three. Hopefully by this time you haven’t turned the album off, there’s a lot of referential construction in the lyrics in this one including the hook to MIA’s hit ‘Bad Girls’ but twisted. Instead of “Get back, get down, Pull me closer if you think you can hang”, Carter has twisted it into an entire song. Personally I think MIA hits it harder with the lyrics, but that’s me. ‘Heaven’ is another standout track despite its over the top self-aggrandising lyrical equations. At least the use of REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ is a refreshing addition. This is one of the better lyrical pieces in the release, but on that lyrical selection…

The lyrical content is not really as abhorrently hilarious or self-referential as ‘Yeezus’, and I will compare them because they have so many similarities in character and attitude, but one falls sadly short of the other. Take this line for example. “I want a wife that fucks me like a prostitute” from Jay-Z compared to “Black woman with her white wine, I wanna put my fist in her like a civil rights sign” by Kanye? No comparison. Yeah its brutal and uncompromising, but at least it never takes itself so seriously. Carter on the other hand, wants you to believe the king-like status he has given himself is reality; but I am starting to question that reality…

I’m the new Jean Michel, surrounded by Warhols”? Invoking the name of one of the most interesting examples of post-modern art prostitution is cute, but drawing comparisons to Jean Michel Basquiat and the subsequent artistic exploitation by Andy Warhol and yourself as a rapper is conceited to say the least. I guess you could say the same about Kanye likening himself to god but West is clearly being facetious. Is Carter? Not so sure on that one. ‘Watch the Throne’ was an exercise in arrogance. ‘Magna Carta…’ is almost the same arrogance and hubris but without the in-joke ‘Yeezus’ has, and clearly not the same level of self-flagellation West exhibits.

And what’s with the name? Is it trying to be ironic or something? Straight from Spin Magazine, “The Magna Carta, as you may have looked up recently on Wikipedia, is the document that tried to limit the king’s powers and led to constitutional law in the English-speaking world. In other words, the rapper behind ‘Watch the Throne’ is inexplicably promoting a document that helped make thrones obsolete”. I don’t get it…

Its really hard to review this without likening it to recently released hip-hop albums as I have done over and over above. I will say its better than every other American hip-hop album release this year so far. It still gives it to wannabe career rappers like Flo Rida and Asap Rocky a run for their money. Is it the album Z has been touting it is? No. Is it worth getting? Maybe. Is it the album of the hip-hop year? Hells no. That title belongs to the Brutus watching the throne from the side lines waiting for this moment of weakness to silently grab the crown and scepter.


6/10 Lazy Lyrical Licks {Abrasive Andy}

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