Why I Can’t Really Get Into Magna Carta…Holy Grail
“With a household net worth of a billion dollars, MCHG is the first solo album where Jay-Z is actually the person he’s always rapped about being. When he raps “Basquiat in my kitchen corner/Go ahead lean on that shit Blue, you own it” and “Surrounded by Warhols/my whole team ball” on “Picasso Baby”, these aren’t colorful fabrications from a kid showing how far his imagination can stretch or even the truth-bending claims of a moderately successful rapper insecure he’s not bourgie enough. This is a man who can actually afford Basquiat bath mats and Warhol toilet paper.
From a technical standpoint, this is actually one of Jay-Z’s better albums. His subject matter and production is as complex and diverse as it’s ever been, and his flow hasn’t lost any of its signature effortlessness. Aside from his perfunctory forgettable track with his wife, nothing on MCHG is skip-worthy.
Yet, if I had to rank favorite Jay-Z albums, MCHG would finish last. As stated earlier, Jay-Z’s main draw has always been how good he was at convincing you he’s as rich as he currently is. But now, when the person finally matches up with the persona, the persona ceases to be as compelling, and the music ceases to resonate. The level of cognitive dissonance needed to be a serious rap fan is no longer necessary when listening to an album made by a person who no longer has any need for hyperbole. After at least a dozen listens, there’s no doubt Jay-Z is the only rapper who could have made MCHG. Unfortunately, there’s also no doubt that MCHG is the only album this Jay-Z—a maven salesman with nothing left to sell—can make. It’s not elevator music as much as it’s music made by (and for) people with elevators in their homes.”
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