Magna Carta Holy Grail Image
Metascore
60

Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 260 Ratings

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  • Summary: The rapper's 12th studio album (released five days early to Samsung mobile device owners via an app) features Rick Ross, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce Knowles, and Frank Ocean, with production from Timbaland, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, and others.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
  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. Jul 6, 2013
    80
    Jay-Z co-opts and redefines current trends to reassert his ongoing cultural potency.
  3. 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.
  4. Jul 8, 2013
    60
    Running to an hour long, Magna Carta becomes exhausting, bumping familiar motifs with such frequency that, as the album nears its close, the senses feel entirely numbed.
  5. 58
    I rank this album alongside Kingdom Come, which in a way was a transitional album toward the superior Blueprint III. Like others, I see (perhaps wistfully so) MCHG operating as a sort of stopgap until he releases something great, like a Blueprint IV.
  6. Jul 6, 2013
    50
    This isn't Watch the Throne, full of rich and weighty contributions from a man who is still enormously talented. It's rap music as a transaction, with a host of stars and hip names wrangled together to convince you it's not.
  7. 20
    Magna Carta’s a mess, and not even an entertaining one--it’s simply a dull record by someone who’s in deep danger of going down as a dull human being.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 74
  2. Negative: 12 out of 74
  1. Jul 6, 2013
    10
    Genious! The LyricalKing of rap strikes again. Great melodier on nearly every track. He is able to use other great artists in an amazing way. Personally I would put in a top 3 of his studio albums together with reasonable doubt and The blueprint. Expand
  2. Jul 6, 2013
    9
    Jay through out this entire album is telling us he's the "king", and rightly so. We're gonna need to come up with some sort of Magna Carta to stop him from putting a beating on everyone in the game as he sips from his holy grail. Expand
  3. Aug 31, 2013
    8
    To say the least I'm confused as to why the user score is so low for this album. I'm far from a big Jay-Z fan, in fact I really didn't start getting into his music until The Black Album came out (not saying any of his albums before then aren't good). I think the problem people have with this album is that they expected a Reasonable Doubt or Blueprint type album and were extremely disappointed. My one question to people that thought this is why get your expectations so high? BP3 is easily in the bottom half of Jay's long catalog, after a lack luster effort why would you expect him to release an album of the caliber of BP1 or The Black Album? It just doesn't make sense to me.

    The production on this album is top notch. It's hypnotic, it's loud, it's aggressive, it's everything you want to hear from a Jay-Z album. The features are all excellent with the exception of Rick Ross (I'll get to him later). JT does an incredible job on Holy Grail delivering what I think is the best Hook in a hip hop song so far this year. Frank Ocean also delivers one of my favorite hooks of the year on the song Oceans. Nas delivers a solid guest verse on the track BBC and Beyonce does a pretty good job on the song On The Run though the track as a whole sounds a bit dated. Rick Ross was the only guest appearance on this project that failed to deliver while Jay did pick out a good track for Ross to be featured on, it was a very mediocre and forgettable effort from Ross. Ross's whole "I'm the boss" persona didn't live up to it's expectations on in fact every time I listen to it I find myself zoning out till Jay's verse comes on. Which brings me to my next point Jay-Z's writing. Like I said before, people expecting Jay to come out with a BP1 or TBA are going to be disappointed but that doesn't make the writing of this project bad or mediocre. Jay-Z is his braggadocios self on this project with lines like Yellow Basquiat in my kitchen corner, go ahead lean on that Blue, you own it" but also touches on controversial social matters with bars like "Feds still lurkin, they see i'm still puttin work in, cuz some where in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerkin". Jay also goes on a more introspective note with songs like Jay-Z Blue where he talks about the struggle of having to learn to become a father when he never grew up with a father himself. Overall this is a very good effort from the rap veteran, at 43 years of age and heading towards the end of his career, it's very unlikely we will hear another Blueprint or Black Album for Jay but that doesn't mean he still can't make great and enjoyable music.
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  4. Jan 10, 2014
    6
    Besides the first two tracks, this album is wack...
    Besides the first two tracks, this album is wack...
    Besides the first two tracks, this
    album is wack... Expand
  5. Jul 10, 2013
    5
    For anybody else this might be a great album, but let's face it, the bar is raised for Jay-Z, a man who has put out some of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Unfortunately Magna Carta doesn't live up to the highs of Jay-Z's career. Magna Carta is frankly too long. Jay has little new or interesting to say. There's only so many times I need to hear him rap about being married to Beyonce or his new side gig representing Robinson Cano. Halfway through the album it just becomes a boring slog. Maybe we'll get lucky and Dangermouse can mix it with Sgt. Peppers or something. Otherwise this is a bore and not worth paying for. Expand
  6. Nov 20, 2013
    4
    Seeing as Jay Z is one of the supposed legends in rap, then I expect him to come up with something a little better than this. All it seems he has done here is have a mid-life crisis and come up with a rash, half-hearted attempt to remain a rap superstar, and keep his name on the map.

    Well, in my opinion, I think that Jay should concentrate more now on being a father rather than being a rapper, as, unlike Nas' latest release (which was innovative, creative, and above all GOOD), MCHG is full of trap-style, 'modern' club beats, with Jay spitting bars that do nothing but drone on and make him sound like someone who has gained perhaps a little too much fame.

    Some of the tracks are bearable, notable ones being 'Holy Grail' and 'Part 2 (On the Run)'. However, the credit for this should go to the featuring artists (Justin Timberlake and Beyonce) who add a little melody and style to what can only be called a..well..boring album.

    All in all, if Jay Z really does want to stay in the game, then he really needs to go back to his old self and take a leaf out of Nas' book who is still releasing incredible music 19 years after his debut. He needs to make something blueprint-esque, and modernise it, rather than this obvious pull for mainstream success and attention that'll only alienate long term fans that waited painfully for a new release from their favourite rapper, only for him to slap them in the face and practically insult them after years of loyalty.

    I am very disappointed.
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  7. Aug 1, 2013
    0
    Ok. The first few songs were listenable. Then he kept the same verse scheme. "blah blah (hustler) blah...(pause)...blah blah blah-blah" through the whole album. He even had Nas do it for a few bars. It was bad...real bad. Expand

See all 74 User Reviews