Magna Carta...Holy Grail

Magna Carta...Holy Grail

by Jay-Z


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Like few other album openers, "Holy Grail" encapsulates what follows it and reflects a particular point in an artist's career. It's a vigorous if not particularly moving track, principally produced by Timbaland and J-Roc, which expresses bewilderment and conflicting emotions about rising from poverty to opulence. The first of a few early-'90s references is made -- the chorus of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is quoted -- and Jay-Z is as triumphant and as troubled as ever. He doesn't enter until the 80-second mark, preceded by a theatrical verse and hook from summer 2013 tour partner Justin Timberlake. As with a significant portion of Magna Carta...Holy Grail, it has a dashed-off, created between business engagements quality -- maybe there wasn't enough time to ask Timberlake who translated his version of the Hebrew Bible ("Sippin' from your cup 'til it runneth over"). Likewise, the album's remainder is sporadically energized, played safe with just enough timely pop-culture references and sonic curveballs to demonstrate that Jay-Z still has his finger on the pulse. He has Timbaland and J-Roc -- also co-producers of Timberlake's 20/20 Experience -- involved with most of the tracks, highlighted by a pair that sample Adrian Younge's 2011 psych-soul masterpiece Something About April, as well as some brilliantly bleary and prickly work on "F.U.T.W." Significantly lighter lifting is done by a cast that includes the likes of Pharrell and Swizz Beatz, as well as Kyambo Joshua and Mike Dean, who shine on the scuffed-up Gonjasufi-sampling finale "Nickels and Dimes." For all the lyrical flaunting of material wealth -- revolutionary art, designer fashion, yachting, globe-trotting -- the greatest ostentatious display here is in the enlistment of 2012/2013's hottest producer, Mike Will, for a single minute-length track. Unsurprisingly, it's the wildest, most advanced moment on the album. He still drops some casually brilliant reminders that he remains one of the best, as on "Oceans" ("Only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace/I don't even like Washingtons in my pocket") and on "Nickels and Dimes" ("Pardon my hubris, Stanley Kubrick/With eyes wide shut, I could cook up two bricks"). [A clean version of the disc was also released.]

Product Details

Release Date: 07/09/2013
Label: Roc Nation
UPC: 0857018004151
catalogNumber: 001887902

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jay-Z   Primary Artist
Nas   Vocals
Ken Lewis   Sampling
Timbaland   Vocals
Pharrell Williams   Vocals
Beyoncé   Vocals
Swizz Beatz   Vocals
Justin Timberlake   Vocals
Brent Kolatalo   Sampling
The-Dream   Vocals
Taffy   Vocals
Danny Flam   Trombone
Travis Scott   Vocals
Zofia Borucka Moreno   Vocals

Technical Credits

Peter Buck   Composer
Kurt Cobain   Composer
Sean "Puffy" Combs   Composer
J. Davis   Composer
Mike Dean   Composer,Producer,Additional Production
Dave Grohl   Composer
Freddie Hubbard   Composer
Darryl McDaniels   Composer
Mike Mills   Composer
Krist Novoselic   Composer
Michael Stipe   Composer
Ernest Wilson   Composer
Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon   Composer,Producer,Additional Production
Bill Berry   Composer
Timbaland   Producer,Additional Production
Chris Godbey   Engineer
Pharrell Williams   Composer,Producer
Malik Taylor   Composer
Shawn Carter   Composer,Executive Producer
Miguel Collins   Composer
Tim Mosley   Composer
Swizz Beatz   Producer
Christopher Wallace   Composer
Justin Timberlake   Composer,Additional Production
Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua   Producer
Kasseem Dean   Composer
Brian Roettinger   Art Direction
Eric Weissman   Sample Clearance
John Meneilly   Management
James Fauntleroy   Composer
The-Dream   Producer
Marz   Producer
Hit Boy   Producer
Ramon Rivas   Engineer
Adrian Younge   Composer
Jordan "DJ Swivel" Young   Engineer
Demacio "Demo" Castellon   Engineer
Boi-1DA   Producer
Stuart White   Engineer
Kyambo Joshua   Composer
Matthew Samuels   Composer
Jennifer Justice   Legal Counsel
Terius Nash   Composer
No Id   Additional Production
Chauncey Hollis   Composer
Sumach Valentine   Composer
Mike WiLL Made It   Composer,Producer
Christopher Breaux   Composer
Travis Scott   Producer
Darhyl "DJ" Camper   Composer,Producer
Roc Nation   Marketing
Anderson Hernandez   Composer
Vinylz   Producer
Desiree Perez   Management
WondaGurl   Programming

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