You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Music

  • Country newcomer lands duets with legends
    What does it take to get country legends such as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard on the same album? A 19-year-old newcomer named Mary Sarah.
  • Time apart made for stronger Nickel Creek
    The trio of musicians in Nickel Creek grew up performing together, but ultimately it was the nearly seven years spent concentrating on their own separate musical interests that made returning to the stage together all the more exciting.
  • Freshcut
    ‘Thanks For Listening’ Colt FordCountry music’s pre-eminent singer/rapper Colt Ford is out with his fifth studio album, “Thanks For Listening,” a release thick with featured vocals from other artists and a keen ear toward the
Advertisement
Roc Nation
Freshcut

Jay-Z finds groove, but it is one we already know

‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ Jay-Z

Kanye didn’t care about satisfying radio with his latest album.

Neither does Jay-Z.

“Magna Carta Holy Grail,” the rapper’s 12th album, doesn’t have the pop or mainstream appeal his past records have offered. The 16-track set, mostly helmed by Timbaland, is full of robust and moody hip-hop beats that maintain a nice groove, but don’t expect any booming anthems or party jams here. Like Kanye, there isn’t a single or music video ahead of the album’s release, which comes out officially on Sunday, though up to 1 million Samsung mobile phone users were able to download the album for free on July 4.

With the exception of rapping about fatherhood and infant daughter Blue Ivy, lyrically, “Magna Carta” doesn’t tell us anything new about the superstar. We all know how he rose from selling drugs in the Brooklyn projects to become arguably the most important rapper of all-time, his multiplatinum feats, his awards, and the benefits of having a superstar wife – Beyonce – at his side.

But while Jay-Z continues to make headlines away from music, this album treads familiar ground, which makes the album – dare we say it? – average.

He’ll remind you – a couple times – that Samsung bought 1 million copies of the record and gave it away three days early – on songs like “Somewhere In America.” There’s similar flavor lyrically on “Tom Ford,” with its freaky beats, and the bumping “Picasso Baby,” where Beyonce gets a shout-out: “Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa, the modern version, with better features.”

It’s when he talks about the other lady in his life, his 1-year-old daughter, where we see a rare side of the typically braggadocio rapper.

“Now I got tattoos on my body, psycho (expletive) in my lobby, I got haters in the paper, photos shoots with paparazzi, can’t even take my daughter for a walk,” he raps on “Holy Grail,” a collaboration with Justin Timberlake. It’s revealing, and especially special coming from the often-unfazed Jay-Z.

He’s continuing to create new blueprints to debut his music. That should be congratulated, but the songs on “Magna Carta” don’t boom like his business plan. Yes, you’ve defied the odds, but we want a little more from the king.

Advertisement