Jay-Z’s twelfth studio album is imminent and we need to talk about it.
Really, there is so much outrageousness that needs to be covered here. Every piece of information and every bit of promotion surrounding this record has given rise to excitement and disdain, giddy exclamations and eye rolls. The amazing part is how most people feel both ways at once. Jay-Z can do that.
Let’s begin at the logical starting place, the title. Magna Carta Holy Grail. There’s the play on his last name, Carter. There’s the feeling that it’s just some important things thrown together. Let’s call it … Sgt. Pepper Bill of Rights! (The right of the people to keep and bear Love, shall not be infringed.) There’s the sheer ego that pulses from it — a title that says, this is an important artifact.
And that’s after we got a hip-hop album with a title that combines the creator’s nickname name with Jesus. Jay-Z surprised us with Magna Carta Holy Grail just as his mentee and buddy Kanye was releasing Yeezus.
It’s a serious power statement: My hype can compete with your hype. I was here first. I’m still here. I still got it. Allow me to reintroduce myself.
Brazen displays of ego are protocol in the rap game, though, so we’re used to having mixed feelings about it. We look on in awe and annoyance but hardly think twice about it.
Jay-Z is making us think twice. And then we have to think again as we write and read think pieces. I’m talking about the Samsung promotion. The company bought one million copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail and its users can get it in advance by downloading an app. This pseudo-corporate sponsorship rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
Others didn’t care. That didn’t last when they saw the terms of the download, which would includes allowing Samsung to “modify or delete the contents of your USB storage,” “approximate (network-based) location” and “precise (GPS) location,” and reading the “status and identity” of the phone.
I’m still not done with reasons this Samsung thing is amazingly game-changing and controversial. Last one: The RIAA announced this week that it will start counting digital sales toward Gold and Platinum certifications immediately. Because of Magna Carta Holy Grail‘s release, they’ll no longer wait one month after the release.
Round that insanity out with the first promo video, which was insanely fun, if not a little forced-feeling. Jay-Z plays the piano in a comically exaggerated way, Pharrell looks ageless and pulls faces, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz bounce to the beatz and Rick Rubin is Rick Rubin.
Oh, and there’s pretty definitely a song about Blue Ivy. Awww.
It’s all too spectacular to ignore. Yeezus has risen and he’ll be looking to the Magna Carta Holy Grail for guidance.