There hasn’t been a more elaborate career than that of the Jigga man’s. He successfully transitioned from being the relatable everyday rapper to a multi million dollar business man with a wife just as powerful as him, all while remaining musically relevant to his core fan base. His career achievements and business ventures are endless, so lets not attempt to name drop them all.
Instead, lets focus on his recent brow-raising announcement that a new album from him is upon us. In fact it’s his 12th studio release titled “Magna Carta Holy Grail”. The announcement came as another unique marketing strategy, having partnered with Samsung to release it exclusively through their devices on July 4th before the rest of the world gets to hear it. At this point, Jay’s legendary status can be considered cemented, so what exactly is he setting out to prove with this album?
Like most Jay fans, my ears perk at the mention of a new song from him but its more so because of his stellar past as an artist and not so much for where he’s headed. He’s a relentless competitor that refuses to step down and give other artists the chance to flourish. He knows that as long as he’s around, their chances to truly become great can be potentially hindered and he can’t be at fault for that from an artists perspective only because to him, they just have to work harder.
Jay has delivered some verses that fell short of his capabilities over the past few months, and they weren’t received to the highest degree as his past guest appearances (think “Suit & Tie”). Even his stand out Kendrick Lamar spot for “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” although entertaining, was overshadowed by a follow up verse from Kendrick himself. For the first time in years, Jay actually has to prove himself amongst the new and fresh talent we now have to offer. “Open Letter” lit up the blogs as all his releases will do, but we quickly lost interest mostly due to Swizz Beatz’s repetitive chorus. On “Watch The Throne” he often ran a tight race with Kanye, who lacks the lyrical dexterity.
It can’t be one foot out and one foot in. If Jay is going to continue to be a heavyweight hip hop competitor, lets treat him as such and not offer up a free pass because he’s been the most consistent thus far. Feel free to critique his verse as you would any other artist. After his #NewRules campaign he’s been on, I’d say don’t change the rules of hip hop to accommodate him if he has a lackluster verse. Hip hop Journalist Elliott Wilson went on record to say we should start treating songs as a complete offering and stop debating who has a better verse and I couldn’t disagree more. That’s partially what rap has been built off of, is its competitive nature. Also, I highly doubt he’d say the same if it happened to be a record with Kendrick and Ab Soul, instead of Kendrick and Jay-Z. We listen, we dissect, then we decide who we enjoy more. Jay has to prove that he can keep up with the youngin’s on this offering, and not just spew half hearted lyrics from his throne. Even Jordan had to show us he still had it when he joined the Wizards and at 38 years old, dropped 51 points. #NoNewRules