MCHG Cover

Wow! I am truly blown away by what I just heard from Hov, he honestly took it to a whole new level! The industry has been waiting for this album ever since we all witnessed the creativity and musical flexibility Hov and Ye displayed on the Watch the Thrones album. WTT was incredible when it came to production and it practically created a new sub-category for Hip Hop. Almost a completely new genre that is very different from the Hip Hop many of us grew up listening to. The emphasis is now clearly on the production and more obviously on the record sales and revenue, no longer on substance, passion, lyrics, or any type of struggle. In fact that’s exactly the essence of why I believe Hov releases absolute garbage like MCHG these days, because he no longer has the struggle and has never had the true passion for hip hop. One of my best friends and I were discussing this horrid album this morning and he was perplexed with the question, “How could the same man that made Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint, and Hard Knock Life create this shit?”. Simply put because that individual has made it now and is no longer the same man. Jay-Z is often referred to as one of the greatest hip hop artists ever, some even place him at #1. He’s married to one of the sexiest girls in the game in a marriage that has a joint net worth nearing $1 Billion. He no longer is in that struggle to get out of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, he no longer is in the fight to reach the top of the game, or more so, no longer needs to prove himself to anyone. The latter being the most influential…Hov’s insecurities have been well documented (See “Ether”).

Before I get into the album I want to emphasize that I am definitely a Jay-Z fan, he’s in my top 5 favorite (not greatest..FAVORITE) artists of all time. I suppose this is why I am so utterly disappointed with this latest work of his, I have learned to expect so much more from Hov.

Ok here it is….Lyrically this whole album was absolutely horrendous, I did not find one verse that I connected to or felt like was Jay-caliber. No substance at all and even when he attempted to talk about something other than his millions and successful business ventures, it was a complete disaster. On the track entitled “JAY-Z Blue”, a dedication to his baby daughter Ivy Blue, Jay even resorted to using classic BIG lines on the hook..yes THE HOOK! The song had no inspiration and didn’t have that “awww” effect when a parent usually discusses his children, let alone his first-born. As a true hip hop head I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but honestly the best part of the album was Justin Timberlake’s portion of “Holy Grail”, the white boy absolutely killed it! That song would’ve been a smash if they just cut out Jay-Z’s atrocious verses. Taking the silver medal for second best artist of the album would definitely have to be Frank Ocean on the track named “Oceans”. You would think with such a rich,soulful voice on the hook Jay would step his game up lyrically…unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Even the song with his wife Beyonce, “Part II (On the Run)”, is such a sad outcome from the same duo that gave us “Bonnie and Clyde ’03”. After “Black Republicans” and “Success”, it was apparent Jay did not want to get out shined by NaS so he included him on “BBC”, a track about clothes…yes clothes. It’s a shame 2 legends of the hip hop get on a track that doesn’t do either one of them justice. Also, I don’t know what Jay is doing to his flow, with his new little gasp after what he considers punch lines, but please stop Hov..we beg you, please stop. In the sense of raw hip hop, based on lyrics and flow Magna Carta Holy Fail was a complete flop.

Now to the positives… With producers such as Pharrell, Timbaland, Swizz Beats and of course Kanye, it is a given that the beats and production of the album were going to be top class. Even while my expectations were already high, this team of legendary producers, greatly impressed me and exceeded all of those expectations. Beats were absolutely sick and the production flow of the album was extraordinary, this album as an instrumental release would be a hit. Reiterating earlier points I made about the guest appearances, they were definitely on point and a great touch to the album. I will say with all that being said, the highlight of the album was definitely the business behind it. Jay sold 1 million copies to Samsung for an app release which was absolutely genius. Aside from those million downloadable copies, he of course ended up selling over 500,000 copies in the first week as well, all while being the most listened to album in Spotify history. Can’t take anything away from Jay as a ‘business…man’, he is truly a mogul.

Overall, I would rank this as Jay’s worst ever album, a true disappointment.

Rating: 2/5 Beats (1 for production, 1 for guest appearances)

RaS

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Nas’ Life is Good, was greatly anticipated by hip hop heads everywhere, anxious to see what direction the legend MC was going to take with his 11th solo album. NaS, arguably the greatest lyricist of all of all time, is known for having his personal life events greatly affect the message of his albums. It is easy to draw direct correlations from each of his albums to a specific transition or event in the MC’s life. Examples include his mother’s death (God’s Son), his beef with Jay-Z (Stillmatic), his marriage to Kelis (Street’s Disciple), and of course his divorce with Kelis (Life is Good). Hip Hop enthusiasts, NaS fans, and industry personnel were all worried this would be a heartbroken, love-themed compilation. Listeners immediately had no more worries and were instantly in a trance as soon as they pressed play…

NaS brilliantly introduced the LP with an opening song titled “No Introduction” which set the tone perfectly for the album with just the first few bars. “P.S. 111 free lunch/embarrassed but managed to get a plate” connected listeners to NaS’ childhood right away and proved the beginning of somewhat of a timeline as he goes through this track as well as the album itself. Transitioning through periods of his life with lines such as “15 I got a gun/16 I robbed a train/Licked off a shot for fun/What’s got inside my brain” all the way till the present with a shout out to his ex wife, “I wrote this piece for closure/some of yall might know Kelis/ This goes out to her with love.” The legend MC keeps it personal with his fans discussing topics as close to the heart as his relationship with his daughter Destiny in the song “Daughters” while also having direct conversation with Kelis concerning their divorce on “Bye Baby.” Aside from family and personal glimpses NaS continues to show appreciation and respect to the environment that raised him, Queensbridge Projects in New York City in songs like “Nasty”, “A Queens Story”,  “Back When” and a new NYC anthem, “The Don”.

The GOAT continued to prove how true love and passion for the art of music and the real depth of Hip Hop can overcome any financial or industry success. NaS after nearly 22 years in the game is still able to touch nerves and emotions of listeners from a slew of fan backgrounds. The same man that coined the phrase “Hip Hop is Dead” helps prove that while lyrical legends such as himself are still blessing us with their musical art, Hip Hop still has a heartbeat. Which is exactly the message I think NaS is trying to illustrate with this album, no matter how difficult things may seem always “Count Your Blessings” (shameless Distant Relatives plug) and remember that Life is Good.

Rating: 5 Beats

RaS