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Jay Z releases a new album, calls it "Magna Carta Holy Grail", like it's going to be so monumental that it's worth naming after two of the most infamous artifacts in history. Naturally half the world goes nuts, whilst the other half ignore it purely because it doesn't feature Justin Bieber. So is the the hype and fuss around Jay-Z's latest creation warranted? Put plainly, no. This album is not the kind of game changing master piece that Kanye West's "Yeezus" proved to be, but is still a damn good listen. Things are changing in the world of hip hop- beats are becoming revolutionary (a la Mr West), lyrics are becoming slicker, and the whole drugged up gun murder activity lines are just classed as below the belt. Good job too, we say. Before we get stuck into what "Magna Carta Holy Grail" (MCHG) is all about, let's get one thing very, very straight. Jay-Z is a legend of the music industry, so there really isn't much that the guy can do to impair his reputation. Criticism of his work comes in a very different vain to the way others are ridiculed- he's on another level, and to call some of his work lackluster would be the equivalent to ripping into Frank Sinatra for constantly wearing a hat and crooning too much-it just wouldn't happen. Anyway, enough of this glorifying stuff. To the music. At this point, it might be worth noting the way in which Hova has gone about promoting this album. Summed up with his lyrics "F**k hash tags and retweets", Jay-Z has used his status as a social media and business mogul to make this album more eagerly anticipated than Christmas Day to a five year old. A deal with Samsung meant that a million users of their phones got the album for free on independence day. Happy 4th of July America, love Mr Carter. Add to this performing at an impromptu gig for 6 hours at New York's Pace Galleries, and you've basically got an album that's simmering before it's even hit the shelves. Clever, clever man. To anyone that's kept track of Jay-Z's illustrious discography, you might see a a gradual change in his music. From a young, gritty rapper with the likes of "Hard Knock Life" and "H to the Izzo", Jay-Z has matured and his music has followed, resulting in MCHG becoming one his greatest achievements. It's slick, smooth, and throws away the trashy rap that has made recent rap artist's albums too edgy to bare. Expect the expected. As we mentioned earlier, this isn't a ground breaker, but it is very, very enjoyable. It's flashy in the huge gold chain manner of Jay-Z, with product placement and name dropping galore, but hey, this is one of the richest guys in music- he's married to Beyonce for god's sake, you'd brag too if you were him. The look at me persona of MCHG is laid out in full with the track "Tom Ford". It basically does what it says on the tin and repeats the brand name a host of times with a heavy beat behind it. It's decadent, pointless, and we love it. Check out "Heaven" too. It displays Jay-Z's talent to switch up styles in a heart beat, delivering a chilled out rap over the top of a pulsating beat with some trippy vocals and even includes a sample of R.E.M's "Losing My Religion". As with most of Jay-Z's albums, you can expect some big names and collaborations on MCHG, from Rick Ross (listen to "F*ckWithMeYouKnoIGotIt" for an unashamedly amazing trashy rap) , Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, through to Frank Ocean, who offers up his unique sounds on the track "Oceans". This track has got some serious potential- listening to the two of them together sounds like a match made in heaven (sorry Beyonce). There was a lot of shout and pout about the release date of MCHG- purely because it came almost immediately after Kanye dropped "Yeezus". MCHG was billed as Jay-z's panic answer to Yeezy's truly wacky masterpiece- complete and utter rubbish if you ask us. Listen to this album, and you will not regret it. It's one of the easiest hip hop albums to listen to in what seems like an eternity. It's not brash, it's not shouty, yet it's got plenty of front and enough attitude to make you respect it. The maturity of Jay-Z is shown in abundance- it's like he's poured everything he knows about the industry into one album and created a hip hop bible. Maybe naming it after two of the greatest historical treasures was warranted after all.

Ryan J Gray

 

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