Support Local Journalism, Join the SA Current Press Club.

New Music Review: Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta... Holy Grail' 


Magna Carta

Holy Grail

(Roc-A—Fella/Roc Nation/Universal)

After dropping in-jokes for the art crowd on “Picasso,” Jay calls out some unlikely assailants (his audience), letting us know of our weight on his shoulders, shouting “Don’t forget, America, this is how you made me.” True, we’ve made his name a synonym for excellence, but for an emcee who penned the literal blueprint for 21st Century rap, Hova, in rare form, isn’t giving himself enough credit. With Magna Carta... Holy Grail, Mr. Carter laid down another instant classic, 16 tracks of wit and undeniable hooks, over a seamless mix of chopped and screwed-meets-old school boom-bap production.

From the sickly-sweet opening licks of Justin Timberlake, to Frank Ocean waxing on the legacy of slavery and Jay’s Queen coming back for a follow-up to “03 Bonnie & Clyde,” the cameos bring in enough variety to keep hip-hop heads hooked for such a long release. But don’t be mistaken — the real power on Magna Carta lies with Jay’s nimble, yet commanding delivery and a Dream Team producer crew of Timbaland, The Dream and Pharrell. Hova keeps it funny, playfully copping from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” without losing the racial consciousness of his best work, dropping his “Strange Fruit” on “Oceans” and calling out Miley for her recent act of accidental racism (“Twerk Miley Twerk”).

Putting his 12th album on the shelves on July 4 sheds light on Jay’s intentions. As if it wasn’t already clear, he wants to go down as an American icon. Jordan, Jackson, Carter. Whether the Samsung deal — selling a million copies before a single soundbite was heard via a pre-sale app — will go down as a marketing ploy or a game-changer, Brooklyn's idol steamrolled through the hype. You've made yourself, Jay.

click to enlarge jay-z-magna-carta-holy-grail1jpg

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


Join SA Current Newsletters

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation