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on July 10, 2013
Ok i'm going to be honest, the production is a 4 1/2 - 5 stars, his rapping/rhymes are about 1 1/2 - 2 stars and i'm being very generous. the album feels very rushed and like he just threw something together. it's almost like he did a "why even bother folks will buy it because i'm hov" type effort. if you just like to hear nice beats and could care less about a rap flow it is worth the money, but if you care about a complete product with meaningful lyrics then this is not the album for you.
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on August 10, 2013
...to grown folk hip-hop.
He could set the standard. But, unfortunately, he's half-step-sleep-walking.
From this master wordsmith, we have here:
Wack, run of the mill beats.
Stale "made it against all odds", "don't hate" subject matter and delivery.
Extra, unnecessary obscenity...
I mean, there's so much going on in the world, including with black males, and ol boy has NOTHING new to say? SMH.
Yet another example of the sorry state of hip-pop.
I used to buy Jay automatically, sound unheard. But not no more. Half-stepping, entitled millionaires will WORK for my little dollar.
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VINE VOICEon July 9, 2013
Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of the closest collaborators in music and have dropped arguably the two marquee hip-hop releases of the summer. It's astounding then how diametrically opposed the two albums are, not only in sound but also in underlying philosophy. Kanye's is a minimalist, industrial work with almost no marketing campaign, seemingly entirely unconcerned with sales. Meanwhile, Jay-Z has given us among the most commercial albums of our time ("platinum before release") with Samsung as his benefactor. He leans heavily on his tried and true muses for lyrics and the usual suspects for beats, but he manages to grow just enough to keep himself above the fray. If Yeezus left you out in the cold, MCHG is chicken soup for the hip-hop soul.

All the themes you'd expect from a Jay-Z album are here: His rags to riches story, throwbacks to his days of selling drugs, his loyalty to his roots, jabs at his detractors, his absentee father, his young family. All are in rare form. The lyrics remain potent and when his skill lags his swagger and presence buoy the track. What other rapper could grunt his way through a third of a track and make it work? (see: Versus).

But amidst of all of the expected are the bits of growth that showcase an evolution sometimes unexpected from the genre. While rappers often flaunt their philanthropy, Jay anticipates giving without recognition ("The purest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous/ We gon' make it there, I promise this.") Whereas so much rap is concerned with the trials of fame, Jay-Z dismisses the minor annoyances of celebrity ("This ___ ain't work/ This is light work/ Camera snapping, my eyes hurt/ ______ dying back where I was birthed.") Where Jay-Z has often been guarded about his private life, he offers up his worst fears on "Jay-Z Blue," rapping "I'm starin' at her prayin' that things don't get ugly/ I'm stuck in that old cycle like wife leaves hubby/ ____ joint custody/ I need a joint right now just that thought alone ____s with me." He even broaches faith, subtly weaving a little philosophy into his standard fare, "Question religion, question it all...Ya'll religion creates division like my Maybach partition." These lines may seem insignificant, but it's these little flashes that have defined Jay-Z over the years. They're subliminal bits of sincerity that push a genre oft-maligned for its immaturity.

The album isn't perfect. As usual, the collaboration with Mrs. Carter is the low point. But there are enough tough beats and catchy hooks here to keep Miley twerkin' through the summer. MCHG may not explore the possibilities of rap sonically, in the way that Yeezus does, but it is the logical next lyrical and emotional step for Jay-Z. Whether he's starting a sports agency, sitting with Presidents or injecting a bit of maturity into a genre that sometimes needs some prodding, in some ways, Jay-Z doing the unexpected has become entirely expected.
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Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail quickly became one of the most anticipated new releases of 2013. Jay-Z shocked the world by announcing a 'sooner than later' release of his newest effort. The problem with Magna Carta Holy Grail is that it fails to live up to the hype or the consistency that has characterized Jay-Z's previous efforts. Over the course of 16 songs, Jay-Z sometimes pleases while at other times he falls short of making a splash. There is no "Empire State of Mind" or "Run This Town" this time around; single "Holy Grail" hasn't had enough time to build a buzz. Ultimately, even some of the better, more memorable tracks are accompanied by a rub of some sort.

"Holy Grail" opens the effort, assisted by Justin Timberlake. Timberlake sounds soulful as expected, but seems to grab more spotlight than Jay-Z, the feature artist. Jay-Z does perform two verses, but they pale compared to Timberlake's contributions which are more interesting. Things are better on "Picasso Baby", in which Jay-Z proclaims himself to be the new 'Picasso'. The production has an old-school, east coast sound that is suited for Jay-Z. The best moment is the production switch-up that provides a backdrop for Jay's best, 'realest' verse, Verse 3 ("...They try to slander your man / on CNN and Fox..."). On "Tom Ford", Hov solutes the fashion designer stating "I don't pop molly, I rock Tom Ford..." on the catchy hook. It's not an outright classic by any means, but it's a worthwhile listen. "FkWithMeYouKnowIGotIt" follows, but finds neither Jay-Z or guest Rick Ross at their most substantive. The hook is catchy enough, but simple and shallowly based in bragging. Rick Ross does take a noticeable shot at Reebok ("Money talk I speak fluent...Reeboks on, I just do it...") Four tracks in, Magna Carta Holy Grail is a mixed bag.

"Oceans" gives Jay-Z a solid track, with Frank Ocean delivering splendidly on the socially conscious hook. The production is also among the best of the effort, using malicious brass and buttressing drum programming. Jay-Z sounds a bit more up to snuff on lines like "...Only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace / I don't even like Washingtons in my pocket / Black card go hard when I'm shopping..." "F.U.T.W." isn't a bad follow-up, and Jay-Z goes deeper on certain lines ("America tried to emasculate the greats / Murder Malcolm, give Cassius the shakes...") while going 'small' on others ("Sipping D'USSE boy this ain't your daddy yak / he in a Caddilac, Me? In in the Maybach...") "Somewhere in America" is brief, dropping Frank Sinatra and Miley Cyrus references within the same song. Crazy?

On "Crown", Jay-Z takes the Kanye West approach, with lines like "You in the presence of a king / scratch that, you in the presence of a God...". "Crown" should be a turn off, but it is enjoyable enough. "Heaven" has a conceptual edge, taking a page out of J. Cole and Game's religious rap (Born Sinner (Deluxe Edition) and Jesus Piece). Like his colleagues, Jay-Z takes a liberal approach that's somewhere between free-thinking and blasphemy... Later on "Part II (On The Run)", Jay-Z brings in Beyoncé, proclaiming "my baby momma harder than a lot of you..." As true as that may be, "Part II" comes off a bit indulgent, overwrought in length, and odd. "BBC" isn't exactly what one might expect from a Jay-Z and Nas collaboration, but it is likable. Jay-Z in particular seems very concerned with all things material. The close of the effort is particularly odd. "Jay-Z Blue" is meaningful, but too much weight for one track. "La Familia" and "Nickels and Dimes" seem like filler.

Ultimately, Magna Carta Holy Grail feels scattered and lacks cohesion. It and Jay-Z himself have their moments, but neither seems to be at the 'top of the game'. After a run including American Gangster (2007), Blueprint 3 (2009), and Watch the Throne (2011), Magna Carta Holy Grail leaves more to be desired. Okay, but we all expect more from Hov.
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on August 11, 2013
I listened to it and thought to my self if this album was free I would give it one star. I am sure happy I did not pay anything. With efforts like these, Jay-z will you please go away and stop wasting everyone's time. Lyrically uninspiring, rife with pseudo complexity, unintelligent, incoherent, uncomfortable flow, despite what people are saying very little thought, if any went into lyrics composition and structure. The only redeeming quality on a track or two was background and even that should have been used on someone else. As a consumer you should be more demanding of the people that you place product loyalty with. As for me I would give the same amount of money as Jay-z put in effort with this piece of crap-ZERO.
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on July 16, 2013
The album is unchallenging, boring, unimaginative, and superficial. I expected more. The entire album feels forced and commercial--with little valuable content and lacking any sense of purpose or direction.
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on August 16, 2013
This album is so... unexpectedly bad. Music, beat, tune, whatever all out of sync. Has the feel of rushed-through and hastily made album. Sorely disappointed.
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on July 31, 2013
Jay-Z should have gone out with the bang that was The Black Album. I went out and bought his 'comeback' album Kingdom Comes and after that snoozer I vowed that I would never buy a Jay-Z album again without listening (for free) first. The American Gangster "un-official soundtrack" was nice. He sounded inspired on that one and I plan on buying it. I heard a few tracks off Blueprint 3 and never listened to the rest. I listened to MCHG TWICE on Google Music. Then a friend let me borrow the CD and I listened in my car. Meh. I was about to listen again the other day and then I thought to myself "Why am I trying to like this album?" And the answer is "because it's Jay-Z." But I give up. He sounds like a guy who is worth a few hundred million dollars and decided it was time to make another album and get some more checks. I read that one of the producers (Swizz Beats maybe?) said that Hov knocked this out in two weeks. It sounds like it. This sounds like a mixtape that should be given away for free. I'm glad I didn't buy it.

Speaking of free mixtapes, if you want to hear some amazing hip hop that was released FOR FREE, listen to Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P).

8/22/13

So this CD is still in my car for some reason. I had a ride to take and started going through tracks.

" F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit" has to be a joke. How can Ross get on a Jay-Z album and just rhyme 'ni@@a' for ten lines?? I just imagine those two guys in the studio together passing a joint around. All of a sudden Officer Ross says "Sean, my man. I'm bout to kill these ni@@as! I'm gonna make the laziest verse EVER! I'm a trendsetter my ni@@A!" And Jigga says " no doubt, it'll make my lazy rhymes sound that much better!" WTF is this?

When Q-Tip heard "Versus" he probably had a look on his face like he just smelled a fart. If you'e gonna repeat Tip's lines at least do something to make them better!
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on July 30, 2013
This review is by no means meant to disrespect or offend anyone...it's just MY opinion. This album is major crap hot garbage! Production is superb. But it should be...Jay has access to the best of the best. This album is for people who like 2 Chainz and Juicy J. (I like 2 Chainz and Juicy J by the way.) Jay dumbed down his flow to appeal to mainstream 'rap' fans. True hip-hop fans will not like this and while I enjoy empty lyrics over a dope beat from time to time, I do not support anybody working below their potential. This cd is like when Michael Jordan came back and played for the Wizards. And well....nobody watches MJ's Wizards highlights.
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on July 23, 2013
It took me 3 sittings to finally get through this entire record. I've never been a particularly big fan of Jay-Z, and this really solidified why. Hard to even say anything constructive... it was too difficult to try to pay attention. I guess you certainly can buy a #1 record these days. Throw enough hype and money at something, and there you go. Can we just get another Rakim record, please?
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