With MCHG Jay-Z made history when he became the first artist of any genre to go platinum before his album, Magna Carta Holy Grail was released. On June 16, Samsung featured Jay-Z in a commercial where he announced his 12th studio album would be released only to Samsung users beginning July 4.
The New York rapper sold 527,000 copies of the album, according to Nielsen SoundScan, making its debut the year’s second-biggest opening after Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, which moved almost 1 million copies in its first week in stores in March.
The biggest brag for Jay-Z might be the fact that thirteen No. 1 albums heightens his No. 2 all-time chart-topper spot above Elvis and Bruce Springsteen. On Wednesday night, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake launched their Legends of the Summer tour in Toronto.
There’s an immediate distance from performer and listener on his new album. Below is a track-by-track review.
On the Justin Timberlake featured opener, he interestingly talks metaphorically of his relationship with fame while paying homage to Nirvana’s anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The more you play this dramatic song, the more you realize it’s a Justin Timberlake record featuring guest verses from Hov. – T.B.
On the second cut, Jay-Z is rapping about his favorite European artists, such as Pablo Picasso. “I just want a Picasso/In my casa, no, my castle.” The 43-year-old rapper also uses a clever metaphor to describe his wife. “Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa/the modern day version with better features.” Lucky man. – D.L.
The third track on the album is the first track that has a heavy 808 sound. Hov raps over a heavy bass line and a myriad of strings, and even Beyonce joins on the bridge. In a rare occurrence where Jay-Z answered fans’ questions via Twitter, a fan asked, “Was the name of Tom Ford originally IZOD?” Jay responded, “YES.” – D.L.
Jay is joined by MMG general Rick Ross, and the two boast that if you ride with them, they can support luxurious shopping sprees and high financial expenditures of trips to, Europe. In their case, it cant be tricking if they got it, right? – T.B.
“Oh my god, I hope y’all don’t get seasick.” He locates the irony of cruising the high seas in a fancy boat while being haunted by the notion that these may be the same waters that transported slaves to America. This song demands repeat listens before it can be appreciated. – T.B.
This might be one of the most lyrical songs on the album. Jay-Z boasts about how he came and shook up the rap game. “Martin had a dream, Hov got a team/My chain already heavy, don’t let me get a ring,” Jay boasts. “We have yet to see a ceiling, we just top what we top / Cause the bars don’t struggle and the struggle don’t stop.” – D.L.
On this chorus-less track, Carter raps about how racism is still present in America even though whites (as well as other races) embrace the urban culture and the hip-hop community. “They see I put work in / cause somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerking.” – D.L.
“You in a presence of a king, scratch that you in a presence of a God,” the Brooklyn legend states matter-of-factly. Let’s face it, regardless of how the music or lyrics are perceived, if that is indeed his only objective, then he has already succeeded. – T.B.
Jay-Z samples Adrian Younger’s, “Reverie.” “My idea of heaven is in my daughter’s laughter,” Jay explains to super-producer Rick Rubin. “Hell could be… if your child was missing for three minutes, you’d be in three minutes of hell,” he explains on track No. 9. – D.L.
The short 52 seconds features the clever but accurate line: “Your last s*** ain’t better than my first s***/ your best s*** ain’t better than my worst s***.” I wonder who he could be talking about…Hmmm, oh that’s right, all rappers. – T.B.
Part II (On the Run)
The official follow up to “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”, the song is a sexy tribute to a woman standing by her man, no matter the cost, in this case, a lot. More of a poetic story then a love song. – D.L.
Beach Is Better
Instead of invigorating the album with the sound of 2013, he deliberately gives the producer just the 55-second snippet. Whatever the reason, Jay cut the song short, it was good for lyricism because that was for sure RIP to the beat. – T.B.
BBC is basically a medley of the sounds of Pharrell, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz with a verse from Nas and Hov, whose busy sound makes you want to do nothing, but snap to this beat. It sounds a little cluttered, but it works. Think of a crowded “Change Clothes.” –T.B.
Arguably, one of the most meaningful songs on the album, Hov raps over this Timbaland beat about his relationship with his newborn daughter Blue Ivy. “Apologies in order, to Blue Ivy my daughter / If it was up to me you would be with me.” – D.L.
Jay-Z responds to Lil Wayne’s diss by dropping the first two bars dedicated solely to the New Orleans rapper. “N****s want to kidnap wifey , good luck with that bruh / You must going to hide your whole family, what you think we wearing black for.” – D.L.
Nickels & Dimes
This is the final track and he talks and the Brooklyn-bred MC talks about the struggle between being successful yet still connecting to those less successful. “Johnny Cash, I’m a real G/ I cut myself today to see if I still bleed/Success is so sublime / Gotta do that time to time so I don’t lose my mind.” – D.L.
did you know
527,000 sold in the US
13th #1 album in the US
#1 album in the UK
#1 album in Canada
#1 album in Switzerland
#1 iTunes in 64 territories
1 Samsung partnership
1 ground-breaking commercial
1 million apps
14 million Spotify streams – a new Spotify record