When Jay Z has a misstep, it’s not one easily swept under the rug. His highly commercialized “comeback” album 2006’s Kingdom Come, despite being his highest debut week ever was considered a stinker; one that still lingers at the slight mention of his brilliant catalog. From his stumble he quickly reverted back to making music his fans would easily embrace which in turn gave us 2007’s well- crafted American Gangster. The point here is Jay is in tune with what his fans may want to hear from him, and considers it; which may serve as the difference between himself and Kanye West, who could really give less than a f*ck about what you “want” from him, and will instead give you what he thinks you need.
The brilliant advertising that went into Magna Carta.. Holy Grail was enough to pull in fans that haven’t supported Jay in years, out of curiosity. But the music had to serve as one hell of a middle finger with a “welcome back, you shouldn’t have left in the first place” kind of gesture behind it. The opener “Holy Grail” attempts just that. Bruno Mars Justin Timberlake owns the first minute of the song and builds up momentum for Jay’s entrance, but you can’t help but mistake his crooning for Bruno’s. The stars trade barbs on their love/hate relationship with fame over Timbo’s return to production supremacy. In fact, he handles a huge chunk of the production on this one, and there are hardly any complaints about it. On the fun and flashy “Tom Ford,” Tim gets a bit too experimental on the boards which makes this go from cool to skip worthy after a few listens, and is solely responsible for some of Jay’s most “ehh” lyrics in a while. Hov often distances himself from current events and media so when he name drops Miley Cyrus and her infamous twerking video on the briskly smooth “SomewhereinAmerica,” it’s an eyebrow raising moment. Produced by Hit-Boy, Jay uses the jazzy instrumental to explain that despite his success, he still fights to be accepted. He loosely covers racism still being alive in America despite black culture being emulated by different races (twerk Miley, Miley, twerk).