Road warriors Macklemore and Ryan Lewis allow Jay’s Life + Times into their trailer and back stage at the Camp Bisco music festival.
Magna Carta… Holy Grail
Roc-A-Fella / Universal; 2013
Score (Potholes In My Blog scale): 3.5 / 5.0
Click over to Potholes In My Blog — the god of online indie rap criticism — to read my take on Jay’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail.
The good folks at Potholes In My Blog occasionally run retrospective pieces on the milestone anniversaries of landmark albums. They asked me to do such a piece for Jay-Z’s sophomore LP, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, which turns 15 today. Click here to read my thoughts.
For seven nights now, Jay-Z has paid his respects to the borough that birthed him: Brooklyn. I was in the crowd on Monday night when he got all wistful an’ shit. Read my thoughts on the matter, here.
There actually is something going on here. It’s a remarkable alchemy between the rugged flow of area MC Spekulation and legendary folk-ster Bob Dylan. Here, Spek interpolates Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” into rapped commentary on today’s multimedia-consumed culture. I think Robert himself would be please with the results.
Spekulation showed us his knack for crafty mash-ups (actually, call them “virtual collaborations”) on the previously released Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em (get it here), a reworking of Jay-Z vocal tracks with new, original backing by The Jason Parker Quartet.
Watch for Spek’s self-titled EP dropping on 1.10.12.
The danger in scribbling down a hasty review of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne, especially for a writer who is quick to react to the bellow of so-called “significant” pop music projects like this album (tentative raised hand), is that said writer might immediately be taken by the triumphal calls of a track like “Lift Off” which, upon first listen, glistens with an orchestral rap radiance befitting such a pair of pop icons, when, in reality, the track is just a jumble of overwrought synth bloat, a wasted Beyonce cameo and lame half-sung half-rapped auto-tuned nonsense. On the other hand, the danger in waiting for the gold and platinum dust to settle before writing about the album is that one could be swayed by the reviews that came before, especially the negative ones accusing Jay and West of recklessly indulging themselves in their fame and excess, thereby further diluting hip-hop’s greater meaning within the mainstream context. So what’s a writer to do? I suppose some comfort can be taken in the old proverb about history ultimately determining the legacy of its people, places and things. It’s impossible to tell now if Pop Music will canonize Watch The Throne, but if there’s one thing this critic has gleaned from listening to the record at least a dozen times in succession, it’s that it’s much more fun to deliberate over the question than it is to actually listen to the music. And that alone should tell you something about this project…
Life + Times is a new lifestyle blog, curated supposedly by one Mr. Shawn Carter. Launched yesterday afternoon, it looks like the emcee might finally be taking a cue from 206UP.COM and expanding his presence into the World Wide Web. Go on young ‘un, someday all that hustle might just pay off.