Jay Z is one of the very few people who can come out of nowhere and release an album with nothing but a one-time airing of a TV commercial featuring instrumentals to promote it (which subsequently got lots of internet streams), and still do well in sales. This album was ground-breaking in that Jay executed an innovative business deal with Samsung, selling a million copies of the album before the official release date and potentially creating a new revenue stream for artists in the future. The actual music itself on this album is a different story though.
These days if you’re going to enjoy a Jay Z album, you need to go in with reasonable expectations and take into account the context behind how it’s being made. Jay Z is no longer the (current) best rapper in the world, nor is he trying to be. He is, however, one of the best role-models hip-hop has to offer capitalist society. He has the business empire with his hand in music, sports and fashion, the work ethic and lifestyle that got him that business empire, the hot wife, and the happy family life. Honestly, I think he just continues to make music because it’s fun and it may benefit some to get into the mind of a successful person such as himself.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. While this may be the best-produced Jay Z solo album since 2007’s American Gangster, Jay’s rapping on here is hit or miss. Some songs have him on point, but there are too many times on here where he just sounds lazy and not really caring about his lyrical integrity, although he does sound like he’s having fun at least. The guest features are mostly lackluster too, Justin Timberlake being the only one that sounded good. Nas’ guest verse wasn’t bad, but it felt like he barely put any time into it (which I think was actually the case, they made “BBC” by coincidence of being in the same building one random night). Frank Ocean and Beyoncé just didn’t sound good to me, and Rick Ross literally had one of the worst rap verses I’ve heard all year. All this being said, it was still good to check in with where Jay’s head is at with new business deals kicking off and him entering fatherhood. Musically, he can still flow to the beat and he gives us both a fun and serious side to him, but his sharp rhymes aren’t as consistent as they used to be.
My Joint (beat made in Brampton!!!!):
My Grade (based on how well I connected with it, no disrespect if your experience was different): B
Come back to my blog tomorrow to see which album or mixtape came in at #17 on the countdown!