Magna Carta Holy Grail


Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
Buy On
  1. Give it up to the one where Beyonce pledges gangsta devotion and, best of all, the one where the "billionaire" (he says) looks back at the betrayals of his own departed head of family with something that feels like dread.
  2. The Source
    Dec 19, 2013
    Despite lackluster showings on the title track, and the anti-climactic first two verses of "Picasso Baby," a track presence that has stood the test of time for almost two decades eventually shines though. The second half of the aforementioned "Picasso Baby" shows off Jay-Z at his peak. [Sep 2013, p.97]
  3. Jul 10, 2013
    Has Jay-Z made another classic? Only time will truly tell, but my gut says MCHG will ultimately fall just short of classic status. Where does it rank among his now 15 albums? I’ve got it somewhere in the top third.
  4. Jul 9, 2013
    He may be coming to grips with the fact that there are limits to what you can do at the top, as his clash with Billboard regarding his Samsung deal showed, but that doesn’t stop him--lyrically, promotionally, or otherwise--from trying to push the boundaries out a little further.
  5. Jul 8, 2013
    Magna Carta Holy Grail is where Jay-Z’s emceeing finally meets his “High Rap” ambitions. This is easily the best rhyming Jay’s done since American Gangster. But a sharp Shawn on the mic isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise is that this is the most cohesive project Jay’s put together since The Blueprint.
  6. Jul 6, 2013
    Jay-Z co-opts and redefines current trends to reassert his ongoing cultural potency.
  7. 75
    "Magna Carta Holy Grail" certainly is shimmering, heavy and at times sonically stunning, and Jay-Z can toss a brilliant metaphor like it's nothing. But a true masterpiece harnesses intellect and adventure to push forward not only musically but also thematically.
  8. Uncut
    Jul 31, 2013
    Jay-z attempts to balance his great wealth, tough history and news responsibility while retaining his grit. Magna Carta... generally pulls it off. [Sep 2013, p.90]
  9. 70
    MCHG packs a lot of ideas, and not all of them prove very useful, or even well-articulated, by the end. The pieces congeal, eventually, to form a semblance of one of our most prominent cultural figures. The image just isn’t as defined, as focused, or as powerful, as it once was.
  10. 70
    The bizarre juxtaposition of Jay-Z on hit and miss form and a borderline-perfectly produced record makes it a trying listen.
  11. 70
    It's inevitable that the usual litany of labels and put-downs dominates Jay-Z's concerns; Shawn Carter's wraps-to-riches story is the meta-narrative to all his albums and only fades a little in the umpteenth retelling. ... [But] it's the varied production – the sinuous work of Timbaland, in the main--that really elevates Magna Carta Holy Grail beyond the usual Jay-Z document.
  12. 67
    Beyond some excellent beats and a few flashes of lyrical prowess, Magna Carta... Holy Grail doesn’t invite the kind of intrigue that Jay-Z is capable of. He spends the whole album reminding us that he is the center of attention but by about halfway through most people will be doing something else.
  13. Jul 12, 2013
    It’s interesting, but it’s never happy, sad, angry or romantic. It’s not even overly smug.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 347 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 83
  2. Negative: 14 out of 83
  1. Jul 5, 2013
    I had high hopes for MCHG, especially after a load of my favorite producers popped up on the commercials (and because this was going to be theI had high hopes for MCHG, especially after a load of my favorite producers popped up on the commercials (and because this was going to be the next step in Timbaland's comeback). However the weak link, unfortunately, was Jay Z. For every clever line, he has a clunky and inane one to follow it. His attempt to juxtapose his life on the streets with his current situation comes with an awkward reference to Tumblr. On Picasso Baby, he composes a laundry list of all the artists he knows, but ends by claiming he is the "modern day Pablo.... Picasso Baby" in case listeners weren't sure what the song title meant. Moments like this insult the listeners' intelligence and his awkward appropriation of other songs, like REM's Losing My Religion and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit don't fit at all in the songs they appear on. Furthermore, he is thoroughly outclassed by his featured peers. Even Justin Timberlake doing his best Bruno Mars impression on album opener Holy Grail is more interesting than Jay's verses. Rick Ross seems to be the leading artist on as Jay doesn't appear until more than halfway through the song. Even then, Ross sounds confident with his lines, whereas Jay Z's stuttering, awkward flow give him the appearance of being timid and unsure. On the highly anticipated BBC, Jay's verse is lost in the mix of a multitude of featuring artists. Other times, Jay just sounds bland. Throughout the album, he tries to do his best Kanye impression, juxtaposing luxury with historical references, African American rights, and adversity to fame. However these sound like imitations and his analogies fall flat. On Oceans, he references slavery against the backdrop of a yacht party, but the execution is less powerful than WTT's No Church in the Wild or Kanye's Diamonds from Sierre Leone. In the end, MCHG is stuck in the middle, more experimental, but less meaningful and powerful than past efforts. At its most emotional, on Jay Z Blue, the verses sound like a midlife crisis, rather than a pouring out of emotions. In the end, the good, if not somewhat unremarkable production save the album. But this is not the gathering of talent that we were led to believe it would be from the advertisements. Rather, just like the Samsung affair itself, this album is a business transaction, not a labor of love. Full Review »
  2. Jul 5, 2013
    This album is great but its not his best album. The album starts off with an great track. Jay z is an intelligent artist that is also anThis album is great but its not his best album. The album starts off with an great track. Jay z is an intelligent artist that is also an gifted lyricist. The commercials for this album was great. I like the album but i did expected much more from it, i expected the best jay z album when i watched the commericial from this album.

    The thing that i love about the album is the guest apperance is less than your average hip hop album. Most albums have a ton of guess artist on it but this album doesnt which is a step up from his previous album "the blueprint 3"

    If you are a jay z fan or a fan of hip hop you should def buy this album. I am a hip hop fan and a jay z fan so i did enjoy this album but its not outstanding or impress me in anyway.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 5, 2013
    Overall, a colossal disappointment. I enjoyed Jay's last album, Empire State of Mind, and his duo with Kanye West "Watch The Throne. It hadOverall, a colossal disappointment. I enjoyed Jay's last album, Empire State of Mind, and his duo with Kanye West "Watch The Throne. It had been about 4 years since Jay Z's last solo album, so naturally I was very hyped for this. Also, there were all those galaxy promotions and videos that gave inside looks on the album, and it sounded very soulful and personal. But then, (after a ridiculous, unprofessional delay) I head MCHG. I listened to all of it while working out today and didn't really like too much of it. There were a few tracks that were fairly decent, but overall, this was a true disappointment. If you're into buying music, by the tracks Holy Grail, Tom Ford, Jay Z Blue, Picasso Bay, and if you have some to spare, Oceans. Maybe this album is good, and maybe the outstanding Yeezus(quotation forthcoming) is just making me really harsh on this. But it's just not up to Hov's standards, and there is not one track on here that I will put on a playlist or into heavy rotation. If you're looking for good rap albums that dropped this year, I recommend Yeezus by Kanye, and Born Sinner by J. Cole. I'm hoping that when this album goes wide on tuesday that the averages stay green, because there was a clear amount of effort put into this record, but it's just not for me. In terms of Jay Z, wait for the reported Watch The Throne II. Full Review »