Jay-Z has a special July Fourth gift for fans, and it comes in the form of a new album called Magna Carta Holy Grail, the rapper’s 12th studio release, to 1 million Samsung Galaxy smartphone customers who downloaded a customized app for the set.
The new 16-track album features collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Rick Ross, Frank Ocean, Beyonce, Swizz Beats, Pharrell, Nas and Timbaland. And there’s even a couple of references to Jay-Z and Beyonce’s daughter, Blue Ivy.
On Thursday, Twitter was abuzz with tweets about the new album, with the song “Tom Ford” trending. Several critics have taken an early listen to the set.
Jim Farber of The New York Daily News gave it 4 out of 5 stars: “The rap icon balances his trademark fun, witty boasts with some introspection and thoughts on the world on his latest release.”
Rob Markman of MTV: “It all sounds great, but subsequent listens uncover thoughtful commentary and societal observation, lending to the album’s replay value.”
Steve Jones of USA Today gave it 3 out of 4 stars: “The breadth of his subject matter — which also touches on family, loyalty, spirituality and fame — is matched by his lyrical acuity. His perspective is that of someone who has achieved much but hasn’t lost sight of what brought him to this point.”
Jeff Rosenthal of Billboard: “Overall, the album sounds great, there’s just no denying that. Jay-Z’s lyrics, however, ping-pong between great to serviceable, clever to unforgivable. Do I expect too much? Am I quibbling? It’s entirely possible. But Jay put those lyrics out as a series of advertisements for the album, and so they’re asking to be examined through forks and knives. Is it a ‘#classic’? Unsure. A ‘Magna Carta Holy Fail’ (as tweeted by some)? Probably not. It’s closer to the former, with flashes of the latter. Even if it burns out quickly, people love fireworks on July 4th.”
For the most part, the album has all mixed reviews.