We know what time it is. We know the Internet dictates how we live our lives. The 24/7 news cycle and FOMO (fear of missing out) cause us to consume news, media, anything ASAP. Just so we can hurry up and move on to the next thing. And don’t get us wrong, we bout that internet life, but there are some things that just don’t fit in that box and yet we still try to stuff it in. Pause.
The album review is one of those things. It is something that needs to be written after multiple listens that expand over days, weeks and years even. Today, an album drops and reviews hit the same day. Not to mention some of these reviews are probably based off youtube streams of bootleg copies. The artist can’t win. The people that don’t care enough to wait/purchase the official album write superficial reviews with no skin in the game.
In an interview with the Breakfast Club on Power 105 Jay-Z was asked if he read the reviews on the album and he said they have lost their importance. Jay-Z knows the game has changed. Everything is moving faster and faster. But he also knows that an album review that comes out in 24 hours is total BS. The lyrics, instrumentation, nuances and stories are impossible to digest and comprehend in a few listens. I think saw Questlove tweet something about how he needed at least a month with an album in order to form an opinion. And how come there are no follow ups to reviews? That would be the most fair thing to do. Eat your words or confirm your points in the review.
This is the reason for the HELLA LATE album review. Being first is the name of the game nowadays, but it’s an empty win. For us, albums/songs can sound different each time we listen to them. Picking up on another hot line or chord progression. Let’s face it, just the mood you are in makes a song sound different. Hearing that your friend is feelin’ a song or going out to the club and hearing the crowd go wild when a song from the album plays will make you like it more. And then you start reading/listening to the interviews about the album. Who produced certain songs, how all the people on the song came together (artist, features, produces, wives, fashion designers, etc.), catching the double entendres and everything else that’s dope on an album. That shit takes time. Nah mean.
Remember when MTV came out with the Best MC rankings back in 2008? Jay-Z (when he still had the hyphen) was #1 and everyone was appalled. Well, if they did that again today, I bet peeps would be singing a different tune. Not so outrageous is it?
Now this is how Magna Carta Holy Grail unfolds. As the early reviews showed, people weren’t feeling it. Pitchfork gave it a 5.8 on on July 8th (album unofficially dropped 7/4. Officially 7/9). 5.8?!?! FOH. “Born Sinner” got a 6.0?!? Big Ghost knew what was up tho and folks were tripping on him. He gave that shit “4 Zeus slaps outta 5”. Earl sweatshirt said to unfollow him if you fucked with Magna Carta. I do, but I still follow you Earl. (make sure to peep Doris tho.)
Now I’m not saying this is a classic. Jay Z said it’d be fighting for at best #4 in his catalog (per Jay Z, 1. Reasonable Doubt 2. Blueprint 3. Black Album, w/ 2 & 3 switching spots, depending on how he feels). It is for sure a solid album and better than anything out right now. Yeezus? Born Sinner? The Gifted? Jay Z got it over all them, plus he’s writing their checks anyways and collecting those percentages.
Some say that Jay Z’s on another planet and his fans can’t relate. Those people aren’t really listening tho. They hear Tom Ford and Basquiat and turn their nose at Jay. But if they were really listening, Jay is still saying the same things, but just in a different setting. F.U.T.W. is classic Jay. Tom Ford is Gucci is Versace is any other name drop in any other rap song. Tom Ford just shows classy Jay.
So I think the question to ask yourself is “As I go down the album playlist, what song(s) can I skip?”
Holy Grail. PLAY. While heavy on the JT, still a good opening song. And everyone loves JT.
Picasso Baby. PLAY. That beat. The video. Blue leaning on yellow Basquiats in corner of the kitchen.
Tom Ford. PLAY. This song will get the party going. Dope beat. Clapping. Easy to repeat lyrics, especially since Molly is mentioned. Always a crowd pleaser. smh.
fuckwithmeyouknowigotit. PLAY LOUD AF. Pimp C’s intro is too trill. Rozay plays his part perfectly. Not bopping and doing the Money Dance.
Oceans. PLAY. Ocean on Oceans. Hope there’s a video for this one. Feels like a movie.
F.U.T.W. PLAY. This. My favorite song on the album. Don’t be good. Be great. Listen to Jay. Fuck up this world.
Somewhereinamerica. PLAY. Hit-Boy beat. Straight cash, he bought your neighbor out. And then there’s Miley Cirus twerkin’...
Crown. PLAY. 16 year old girl from Canada co-produced the song. Jay Z has his hardest line on the album. “Scott Boras you over baby, Robinson Cano you coming with me” No other rapper can claim that line.
Heaven. PLAY. I see a pattern developing here. Only God can judge us muhfuckas.
Versus. PLAY. Jay why you gotta tease us. See, if this and “Beach is Better” were full songs the album hits another level. We need a deluxe version with those as full songs.
Part II (On the Run). PLAY. I heard a lot of chatter about Jay and B not clicking on this song. I dunno about them, but they're clicking to me.
Beach is Better. PLAY. See #10. The homies always try to say “Don’t bring sand to the beach”, but when you got Beyonce, you bring your own beach. Jay Z you always win.
BBC. PLAY. Jay Z, Beyonce, Nas, Pharrell, Swizz and Nigo are all on that track. Jay said all them were at the same studio one night doing different projects and he told them they had to make a song. How fuckin cool is that?
Jay Z Blue. PLAY. Just the right amount of Biggie.
La Familia. PLAY. Jay down with the lingo bruh. He ain’t got time fo that. #factsonly
- Nickels and Dimes. PLAY. I mean that’s the whole album. Not skipping one of ‘em.
What more can I say?