Why Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ needs to be a classic

Opinion

Jay-Z attends The 40/40 Club 10 Year Anniversary Party at 40 / 40 Club on June 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

Jay-Z attends The 40/40 Club 10 Year Anniversary Party at 40 / 40 Club on June 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

So far the summer of 2013 has been heavy with a variety of rap releases and the barrage won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

One of the more intriguing albums that will be dropping is Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Backed by a unique marketing campaign that merged Hov’s album announcement, which premiered during the NBA Finals, and his brand partnership with electronics giant Samsung, the project promises to be a trademark ambitious move for an artist of his caliber.

Fans of Jay-Z the businessman and fans of Jay-Z the emcee overlap at times.

This will be Jay’s 12th solo album, his first since 2009’s Blueprint 3, and the first since he became the father of Beyoncé‘s baby girl Blue Ivy.

In light of his artist J.Cole dropping a solid second album and protégé’ Kanye West pushing musical boundaries with Yeezus, don’t let Jay-Z’s elaborate new push fool you. The “Empire State of Mind” has something to prove lyrically.

Obsession with the numbers

Bootlegging music has become commonplace in the music industry ever since CD burners became ubiquitous in the 2000’s. Jay-Z was ahead of the curb by releasing his Watch The Throne collaboration album with Kanye West in 2011 exclusively to squash online leeches and achieved platinum status in the process.

Magna Carta is being distributed in the same vein, with Jay-Z making this album available to Samsung Galaxy phone users a full week ahead of its July 4th release.

So Jay- Z once again will emerge victorious because 1 million downloads makes for another platinum plaque guaranteed, right?

Wrong. According to Billboard, they won’t be including those 1 million pre-downloads as actual sales.

Billboard’s editorial director, Bill Werde says, “it won’t count the downloads because Samsung ultimately isn’t selling the album on its phones.”

Hov’s ambitious plan to beat the system appears to be flawed right out of the gate.

Suspect guest verses

Most would agree out of Jay-Z’s catalogue, the albums that are revered as classics are Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint and The Black Album. Among his post-‘retirement’ releases, American Gangster earned a lot of love, but there hasn’t been a consensus classic in his discography for more than a few years.

While he’s certainly been active in the rap game without a proper album to promote, his guest verses have been ho hum considering he’s been spitting since the mid-90s.

From Jeezy’s “I Do” (I D-O, I D-O, I D-O oh oh) to Rick Ross’ “3 Kings” and Justin Timberlake’s “Suit &Tie,” Jay-Z mic skills have arguably regressed.

Magna Carta could be the long-awaited return to form that would reintroduce Hov as a God MC to a brand new audience.

Perspective of a parent

Jay-Z’s impact on hip-hop and music culture as a whole is still being determined, but he continuously leads business initiatives that burnish his brand name.

But luxury rap has become tiresome over the past few years. He’d be best off leaving that lane to the youngsters and instead should on telling tales of newfound fatherhood.

We’re not saying Jay-Z needs motivation to rap better, but a baby girl does open up the possibility for some fresh new material for Hov to revel in. The birth of Blue Ivy has been addressed so far with the touching single “Glory,” but a proper project detailing his transformation from husband to father could be epic.

With July 4th right around the corner, and even with rumors of a surprise concert in Times Square swirling, Jay-Z will be ready to rise to the occasion.

Fans simply hope he can live up to all the lofty expectations.

You can check out Kyle’s musical coverage on theGrio music page, and follow Kyle on Twitter at@HarveyWins.