I gave the album three full listens before I made a determination (one in the headphones, one in the car, one in the living room)! All tracks are judged on a 1 to 10 scale and the final GPA is given at the end with a bit more commentary!
1. Holy Grail- Dope beat, great vocals by JT, haphazard flow by Jay but it works well with the beat. Flow sounds a lil dated, maybe they recorded this in 2010-11, I don’t know, it just didn’t move me. No major punchlines or intricate wordplay. Great sound texture on the beat. Love the way the beat switches up a bit, Timbo did his thing. Jay should’ve picked a different song to kick off the album!
2. Picasso Baby- Super fresh beat, gotta real hip-hop feel to it. The beat switch up was fire for real. This gave me that great early 2000’s feel. This shit has a Blueprint vibe to it. Jay rich spittin on this but I was waiting for him to for real spit. I thought I’d never write this but Picasso Baby is a track is screaming for a feature from a fresh, young MC. Jay should’ve gotten Cole or Joey Badass on this. I can see a bunch of other rappers flowing over this on Youtube by the weekend. I wanna hate on this track but the beat is simply too fresh. Timbo is that mothafucka!
3. Tom Ford- Timbo did his thing on this beat. Lazy attempt at a club anthem by Jay. Lazy ass flow from Jay. For real, WTF, where is the math? Why isn’t he spittin? Nothing is lyrically dope about this track. I can see DJ’s and radio overplaying Tom Ford and mofo’s will love it by the start of football season. This is definitely a skip track in my book. I do like how he gets Bey to adlib on it!
4. FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt- Didn’t know Boi-1da could bring it like this. Super fresh beat! Ross on some lazy flow shit but it fits the beat. This track has major upside to it. I get that “Niggas in Paris” vibe. I would say Jay shined on Ross but neither did anything special, Jay is just better than Ross. The hook is contagious! Niggas will rock out to this pre-gaming or on the way to the club. This will do well in the strip club! This has a My-check-just-got-direct-deposited-into-my-account-and-Im-about-to-ball-for-a-day feel to it. Real simplistic, but simplicity is the order of the day and this will go hard, real hard. If there is a single or a video, it will be this track!
5. Oceans- Pharell didn’t bring it on this this track like he could have. Let me take that back, it’s a good beat but not a track niggas can really get off on. They gave Frank Ocean too much control on this track. Frank Ocean is kinda wack with his off content references/lyrics. This track sounds like Pharell and Jay weren’t in the studio together when they made this track. It has a real disjointed feel to it. I’m not feelin this shit at all. Hard to believe three niggas with so much talent can make a such unforgettable track.
6. F.U.T.W.- Man Timberland blessed Jay with a motherfucking fresh track! The beat was made for wrecking. I think Jay is too rich to wreck a track of this magnatude. A track like this needs hunger… it needs a lil anger… a lil swag. This track needed a feature cause Jay just didn’t bring it. When I heard the first five seconds, I thought this was gonna be the best track but Jay just doesn’t have it on this one. I would’ve loved to hear Mos, Scarface, Krit, Earl Sweatshirt or someone with a different disposition on this track. The beat is brilliant but the flow is sub-par.
7. Somewhereinamerica- Hit boy gave a 1920’s Boardwalk Empire feel to this track. It’s different and I like it. Actually, I love it. Jay showed some personality and flair on this one, “Twerk Miley, Miley… Twerk.” Song is a bit short. I would have liked another verse or a feature. Nothing really notable about the flow but this is a good track.
8. Crown- Who is WondaGurl and why hasn’t she been heard of before. I love the Caribbean undertones to the track. This track has a Yeezus feel to it. I don’t really feel the fast/chop rap flow Jay has on this track but it fits the track. This track is dramatic, big and bold.
9. Heaven- Timberland is just showing his ass on this one. This has a early 90’s RZA vibe with a contemporary feel to it. It’s a bit refreshing hearing the Dream do something outside his norm of the hook. Jay is up to par with the beat on this track. He has great versatility to his flow, got some word play in as well.
10. Versus- Cool lil interlude. Nothing special about the beat nor flow. The interlude doesn’t take away from the album but doesn’t add anything and is simply a set-up for the next track.
11. Part II (On the Run) I don’t know what to say about this shit. Well, I do. This sounds like a track Bey didn’t keep on her album. This is a continuation on horrible Jay and Bey collabs on his projects. They just can’t seem to recreate that Bonnie and Clyde chemistry from the Blueprint 2. Bey has good vocals. Jay verses are wack and nobody really gives a shit about anything he wants to convey on this track. They are a billionaire couple, they need to stunt or stop making tracks because this shit is pure-d-ass. Easily the worst song so far.
12. Beach is Better- Unlike Versus, this interlude is rocking like a motherfucker. I was so fucking ready to turn the hell up! Mike Will proving he is no fluke with the tracks. This motherfucker bangs so hard and jay gave some good word play and had a great flow. This track needs a hook and at least one more verse. Why only 55 seconds? I’m so pissed that this is only an interlude. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!! Jay really blew it here cause this could have been the biggest song of the year! There will be hundreds of niggas that will loop this shit and make it a full track and rock the internet!
13. BBC- So conflicted about this track. Pharell did this thing. The beat is funky than a mofo. Nas did his thing but didn’t belong on this track. (Sidenote, Nas always gets on these money tracks on Jay’s projects & try to keep up with Jay’s money flow but he always comes off as sub-par. Nas needs to stop or get on a different track because Jay shines on him in this format). Back to the review, this song could be a smash but the hook is pure awful. I’m not a dancing nigga but I wanna do a lil move or a lil two step when this track plays. I am ready to 4th-of-July barbecue to this! Jay ripped it for real! Great word play, great punchlines from Jay, “Cuban link, five kilo, your life is illegal when your chain can get the RICO.”
14. Jay-Z Blue- The beat is good but Timberland is missing something here. Love the Big ad libs. Jay is confused on this track or at least he confused us. Is this a tribute to his daughter or a retrospective track? They really had something mixing the Biggie samples into this track. I wish they used this concept but had different content to the track. He should’ve stunted on this track w/ the BIG samples. I can fuck with the song but I don’t really wanna hear it again as is.
15. La Familia- Another great beat by Timberland Jay wasted with a lazy flow and concept. The whole La Familia concept is so early 2000’s, the wack part of the early 2000’s. The hook is trash. The only thing noteworthy about the track, outside of Timb’s beat, is the veiled shot at Lil Wayne. I just don’t fuck with this track. Jay is too lazy and he’s taking tracks off.
16. Nickles and Dimes Who is Kyambo Joshua and why is he making a track on this album. Jay is too far removed from the struggle and too in with the establishment for us to believe this philantro-brag track. The sample is bland, so is the flow. This song could have been left off of the album. It does not contribute to the album!
Overall: 7.13- This album is a C in high school, F in college.
In the Samsung commercial, Jay said this album is about navigating between successes and failures. The album feels like he is vacillating between being a rapper or a mogul.
This album is conflicting because, besides Jay-z, everyone involved is giving it their all and Jay’s flow is simply heartless.
I was gonna write that Jay is like an old legend that doesn’t have it anymore but is trying to get that last ring; like Tim Duncan in games six & seven. That isn’t an apt comparison because Timmy gave it his all and simply came up short.
Jay is nothing like Timmy in this regard. Jay is a like a old vet that got a few rings and is just milking a team for another contract, living off of his past rings. Magna Carter Holy Grail is Brett Farve’s last season in Minnesota. He skipped training camp and it shows.
The major take-away from this project is that Timberland is still the truth! I mean this nigga was like Lebron giving it all in Cleveland to only have old ass Shaq not come through for him. Timbo is gonna get a lot of work from young niggas who have the hunger and drive to do something dope with his great beats.
In context, album has a southern feel to it, like Jay tried to make a luxury southern album. Maybe that’s the Timbo, Pharell, Boi-1da & Mike Will influence. Also, the album missed Ye and his ability to think out the box. I think Ye is the only artist with enough clout to tell Jay to get back in the booth and try again. He really needed someone to do that for this project!
This album tried to build off of the feel of Watch the Throne and missed badly. Like most hyped-up things, this album is all bark and no bite.
I think this is the point in the game where the champ is knocked off the throne. The Yeezus album was average but at least it had heart! J. Cole dropped a near classic! Wale & Drake are on deck. We may not have a new king by winter but we certainly won’t have Jay on the throne after this heartless effort.