Albums to watch

Magna Carta Holy Grail


Magna Carta Holy Grail

Album number twelve from the New York hip hop giant initially released as a free app on Samsung phones

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Virgin / Roc Nation
UK Release date
US Release date
  1. 7.0 |   Consequence Of Sound

    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
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  2. 7.0 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    The bizarre juxtaposition of Jay-Z on hit and miss form and a borderline-perfectly produced record makes it a trying listen
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  3. 7.0 |   Uncut

    Attempts to balance his great wealth, tough history and new responsibility. Print edition only

  4. 6.7 |   Pretty Much Amazing

    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
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  5. 6.6 |   Paste Magazine

    This is by far Hova’s most casual record; he could’ve called it Shrugging in Luxury
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  6. 6.0 |

    Jay-Z seems a little too sanitised in comparison to Kanye West nowadays
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  7. 6.0 |   The Irish Times

    Jigga does produce moments when questions are asked to which he doesn’t yet know the answers
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  8. 6.0 |   Rolling Stone

    There's not much on Magna Carta?.?.?.?Holy Grail that he hasn't said before in more interesting ways
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  9. 6.0 |   Mojo

    Some wildly uneven wordplay, on a needlessly bloated set. Print edition only

  10. 6.0 |   Time Out

    Essentially, it’s business as usual: another competent effort from a once-stunning MC who hasn’t produced anything breathtaking since midway through last century
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  11. 6.0 |   NME

    Let’s be clear: Jay-Z doesn’t make bad records. At this stage in his career, he more resembles Springsteen or Dylan: a wise old soul, a wordsmith
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  12. 6.0 |   PopMatters

    Jay was always custom built for a world where beats take precedence over rhymes—one could argue he’s the most influential artist in birthing that formula—and Magna Carta is that quite explicitly
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  13. 6.0 |   The Fly

    A solid example of a decent modern rap album and nothing more
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  14. 6.0 |   DIY

    We know that he doesn’t have to make records anymore, but it does leave us wondering - does he even want to?
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  15. 6.0 |   Clash

    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
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  16. 6.0 |   The Independent

    Musically, the album leans heavily on Timbaland productions, with occasional input from the likes of Pharrell, Swizz Beats, The-Dream and Mike Dean
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  17. 6.0 |   The Observer

    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
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  18. 6.0 |   Daily Telegraph

    Whereas West's "Yeezus" makes you do a lot of work, Jay-Z lays everything out for the lazy listener
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  19. 5.8 |   Pitchfork

    Unlike Watch the Throne, Jay-Z lacks a foil to bring out an emotional or sociological underpinning, someone to help Magna Carta resonate beyond “look at my shit”
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  20. 5.5 |   The 405

    Magna Carta Holy Grail isn't a bad album, but it's certainly not one of Jay-Z's strongest
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  21. 5.0 |   The Digital Fix

    It's not the legacy album it could have been - but it's still probably worth a slot on your CD rack
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  22. 5.0 |   Independent on Sunday

    Better moments include the sinuous, horn-inflected “Oceans”, with Frank Ocean
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  23. 5.0 |   Spin

    He gave his music to us for free so he could get his $5 million from someone else. That's all that matters. Cheers, everyone
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  24. 4.2 |   A.V. Club

    Where West continues to introduce new twists in his ever-unfolding story—with Yeezus, he’s reinvented himself as rap’s most compelling villain—Jay-Z has remained static, frozen in permanent victory
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  25. 4.0 |   music OMH

    Jay is not looking back or looking forward. He’s looking nowhere except in his overcrowded closet, the switch in his brilliant brain in the “off” position
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  26. 4.0 |   Slant Magazine

    The beats still sound expensive, the guests are the best money can buy, but his ivory-tower ascendance has left him unmoored in a detached Gatsybian universe
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  27. 4.0 |   State

    It’s fitting though that, on an album made pre-platinum by a mobile company, for the first time in his career Jay-Z decides to phone it in
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  28. 4.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    It's a strange and anodyne record, that speaks of a king, nay a god, who may not have lost his crown, but would benefit from leaving his lofty boardroom once in a while
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  29. 4.0 |   Q

    Isn't a dreadful record, but it is a redundant one. Print edition only

  30. 3.0 |   The Quietus

    Jay-Z wants so desperately to be thought of as hip hop's king - and he is that alright, sitting up high in his castle alongside pop's queen Bee, as rap music continues to excite and evolve in the slums below
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  31. 2.0 |   Fact

    One of the most vacuous big name records I’ve heard in a long time
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