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Jay-Z, "Magna Carta Holy Grail"
In between selling off his share of the Brooklyn Nets NBA basketball team and then making a he splash launching his sports agent business, revolutionary Jay-Z dropped "Magna Carta Holy Grail," the rapper's 12th album.
While many published reports indicate it doesn't have the pop or mainstream appeal his past records have offered. The 16-track set, mostly helmed by Timbaland, is full of robust and moody hip-hop beats that maintain a nice groove, but they write don't expect any booming anthems or party jams.
Like Kanye, there isn't a single or music video ahead of the album's release, which came out officially last Sunday though up to 1 million Samsung mobile phone users were able to download the album for free on July Fourth.
With the exception of rapping about fatherhood and infant daughter Blue Ivy, lyrically, "Magna Carta" don’t tell us anything new about the superstar. We all know how he rose from selling drugs in the Brooklyn projects to become arguably the most important rapper of all-time, his multiplatinum feats, his awards, and the benefits of having a superstar wife — Beyonce — at his side.
But while Jay-Z continues to make headlines away from music, this album treads familiar ground, which makes the album — dare we say it? — average.
He'll remind you — a couple times — that Samsung bought 1 million copies of the record and gave it away three days early — on songs like "Somewhere In America." There's similar flavor lyrically on "Tom Ford," with its freaky beats, and the bumping "Picasso Baby," where Beyonce gets a shout-out: "Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa, the modern version, with better features."
It's when he talks about the other lady in his life, his 1-year-old daughter, where we see a rare side of the typically braggadocio rapper.
"Now I got tattoos on my body, psycho (expletive) in my lobby, I got haters in the paper, photos shoots with paparazzi, can't even take my daughter for a walk," he raps on "Holy Grail," a collaboration with Justin Timberlake. It's revealing, and especially special coming from the often-unfazed Jay-Z.
While Timberlake works well with Hova, his collaborations with Beyonce and Frank Ocean on "Part II (On the Run)" and "Ocean" rely too much on the R&B singers. There are other big names on the album, like Rick Ross, Pharrell and Nas, but "Magna Carta," it isn't designed like albums in the past. There are no catchy hooks to grab you in. The most excitement about the album hasn't been generated from the music, but it's promotion plan — Jay-Z announced the album in a commercial during the NBA Finals and launched a series of videos explaining the recording process and songs. He's continuing to create new blueprints to debut his music. That should be congratulated, but the songs on "Magna Carta" don't boom like his business plan.
"Knock me to my knees about a million times, uncle said I'll never sell a million records, I sold a million records like a million times," he raps on "Crown."
Now while many have had their say regarding the King, I must admit that I have not yet heard a single song on the new joint.
However, I refuse o fall in line with those who failed to secure a catch phrase or got full of baby Blue Ivy.
If we did have Jigger, we could not create him.
He took Robinson Cano from Scott Boris, reeled in Kevin Durant and is doing in sports what I have preached for. Blacks working with Blacks are not a bad thing. White folk and Latin’s do it all the time.
So, if you want more from the King then just go back to one of his old tracks, I’m sure you can find one.
The Associated Press and Kenneth Miller contributed to column.
WE tv has greenlit a new reality series starring the R&B girl group SWV (Sisters With Voices) as they attempt to reclaim the fame of their ’90s heyday.
The cable channel ordered six, one-hour episodes of the series, called “SWV — Sisters With Voices,” which will air in early 2014, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The trio, consisting of Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons and Tamara “Taj” Johnson, announced the news while performing at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans on Sunday.
The New York City-based group, whose chart-topping hit songs include “Weak” and “Right Here/Human Nature,” broke up in 1998, amid internal fighting, to embark on separate solo careers. They reunited in 2005.
“The journey of SWV is the kind of real and personal comeback story our viewers love to see,” said Lauren Gellert, WE tv’s senior vice president of original production and development, in a statement Monday. “These dynamic women experienced enormous success together, then it all fell apart. United again, the stakes are higher than ever, and so – at times – is the drama and tension. We can’t wait to present this fresh, new series to WE tv viewers.”