Since its July 4th release, Jay-Z’s twelfth studio effort has had everyone weighing in from detailing the album’s sharp moments of lyrical clarity over its authors now obscene wealth to feeling like an empty placeholder from a rapper who’s reached a point in his career where there’s no battles to fight anymore, only the ones eating away at the various old by networks and systems America has been built upon. The Day & A Dream staff have been knee deep in the album as well and here are their thoughts on Magna Carta Holy Grail and also where does Jay’s latest solo effort ranks in his extensive catalog.

Monica Jones:
Despite the critics and the naysayers Jay-Z delivered what some might consider to be one of his top 5 albums. Magna Carta Holy Grail finds Jay at a monumental time in his life where success and family serve as resonating themes throughout the project. Much like previous albums, MCHG inspires and educates touching on societal issues like class, religion, and racism. While Jay is known to be one of hip-hop’s most talented lyricist it seems like he dumbed down a lot of the lyrical content. The tonal quality & coherence of the production & mixing makes listening to the album aesthetically pleasing for even a Skull Candy headphone user. *Jay-Z laugh* 4.0 out of 5

Monica’s Jay-Z Discography Rankings
1. The Blueprint
2. Reasonable Doubt
3. The Blueprint 2: The Gift & Curse
4. The Black Album

Jonathan Scroggins:
The digital age has not been kind to many artist as of late. Albums come and go and reviews are broke down over the course of a few tweets. On Magna Carta Holy Grail, Hov takes the chance to utilize the internet and this era of smartphones to his advantage . Top to bottom, its the first time in years I heard Jigga comfortable on an album. For the longest my biggest gripes were his hyper-capitalistic rhymes and lack of social responsibility. How its more than “I can do it, so can you” rhetoric while he stockpiles millions as others continue to jump towards the glass ceiling, only to become Damon Dash as opposed to Hova himself. On MCHG Jay-Z finally achieves consciousness. Jay achieves the self-awareness that his often quoted idol Basquiat achieved late into his career. As many punches as Hov has pulled, plenty have lacked teeth given his newfound stature with his “political connects”. Yet on songs like “Somewhere in America”, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”, “Heaven” & many more we see Jay-Z at his most braggadocios and at his most conscious. The balance finally won out here. Even if he attempts to beat us over the head about his heavy handed art references. Thanks Hov, we get you watched Radiant Child now start digging further. 4.0 out of 5

Jonathan Scroggins’ Jay-Z Discography Rankings
1. Reasonable Doubt
2. In My Lifetime Vol. 1
3. The Black Album
4. American Gangster
5. Magna Carta Holy Grail


L Mac
I can’t pretend like I didn’t stay up listening to this album for 36 hours when it dropped. What I can say is when Jay-Z said “your last shit ain’t better than my first shit/your best shit ain’t better than my worst shit”, he meant it. Hov came back from his four-year solo hiatus, to give us Magna Carta Holy Grail, a compilation of rhymes and beats that are unmatched in the rap game. With the justice league of producers behind him, Superman has returned with all the classic elements that made me fall in love with his music. He’s still able to mix club bangers like “Tom Ford” and “FuckwithmeyouknowIgotit” with his social commentary on tracks like “Heaven” and “Somewhere In America” and give place to an all-star cast of features including Nas, Justin Timberlake, Rick Ross, Frank Ocean and Mrs. Carter herself, Beyoncé. Epic may be an understatement. Hov wanted a shot to show his genius. He took it. No humility necessary. This album proves that Jay-Z has earned the right to call himself the greatest. #FactsOnly 4.0 out of 5

L Mac’s Jay-Z Discography Rankings:
1. The Black Album
2. The Blueprint
3. Reasonable Doubt
4. Magna Carta Holy Grail
5. American Gangster

T. Piper
MCHG is a shiny ruby in the crown of El Padrino (he’s at least earned the title, right?). The masterful wordplay, texture, production and promotion is stellar and true to Jay’s formula. He truly establishes a new “blueprint” that many artists will emulate of course simply because it’s him. Listening to the struggles from nothing to something then fame to corporate speaks volumes to those willing to go all out to get there. Mr. Carter’s bravado knows no bounds as he spits a sonic barrage of status, growth, science, pain, and celebration in the magnum opus. Going platinum before even releasing the album is simply a testament to his business acumen and the reason why he remains at the top because “the bars never struggle and the struggle never stops”. 4.5 out of 5

Jay Howard Gatsby
In some ways, Jay-Z’s newest album Magna Carta Holy Grail allows Jay to pick up where he left off on Watch the Throne, bragging about all the money he has. Thankfully, it’s much more layered than you might think. Anthemic, hilarious in some points and painfully honest in others, Magna Carta merges critique of consumer pop culture with poignant moments of conscious rap. Sometimes Jay’s slightly outshined by features (Timberlake on “Holy Grail,” Frank Ocean on “Oceans,”) and some songs are too damn short for their own good (“Versus,” “Beach is Better”). But, the greatness of “Jay-Z Blue” and “F.U.T.W.” make the album’s low points (especially “Crown”) so forgivable.

In one fell swoop, Jay’s introduced us to #newrules and singlehandedly provided us with all the soundtrack we’ll need for the summer. So even though my bank account takes offense to MCHG, if only for a moment, it allows me to rap along to “Tom Ford” to where I can imagine I can afford it. 4.0 out of 5

Jay Howard Gatsby’s Jay-Z Discography Rankings:
1. The Black Album
2. American Gangster
3. Reasonable Doubt
4. The Blueprint
5. Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life

Before last Wednesday, the last album I can remember with such an epic, stop what you’re doing the world is enjoying an album moment was that Sunday night when we got to grill and understand how grandiose Watch The Throne was. It’s possibly the best #newrules album because it punches class and traditional social structure in the face. Largely that’s because Kanye West needed a foil to his antics and he found it in his big brother, who in turn delivered one of his sharpest moments on wax post-retirement. It’s been ten years since he first attempted to toss his microphone in for a boardroom but to say Shawn Corey Carter is a bit different is an understatement. There’s a glow to being around him, musically and now with his latest Roc Nation venture in sports. So of course Magna Carta Holy Grail represents the highest form of selling out in terms of promotion and beating the system. It bullied its way to earning a platinum plaque before hitting retailers and only symbolizes how in less than 10 years, Jay-Z effectively changed how you viewed a rapper.

MCHG cribs a few ideas from WTT and makes it wholly Texas and dark. It’s not irony that Beyoncé shows up here on three occasions and two of those she provides backing vocals as Third Ward Trill. It’s not ironic that Bun B gets a shoutout and obtains a place in the Hov-sphere that orbits around Basquiat mentions, buying buildings to house art and more. It’s not ironic that after years of tearing away at the flesh of not having his father around, finally burying it on “Moment Of Clarity”, Hov is gripped with more paranoia than Walter White about getting caught in Albuquerque about being a dad himself. He enjoys being this status on “Jay-Z Blue” but gets silly when adding notes from Mommie Dearest to drive home a point that he’s deathly afraid of becoming what his father was. It’s not weird that he name drops Basquiat at an alarming rate or that he and Nas can go back and forth over Spanish bodega tunes crafted by Pharrell. Because that’s where Jay-Z is now.

There’s no beach he can’t set foot on. No block to takeover, no record label to squash or rapper to thumb his nose at because his battles are on a far different perch. Jay-Z’s newest mountain is somehow to try and relate his lofty aspirations with current trends. Hence why the chorus to “Tom Ford” features two things that have zero to do with one another in “molly” and the former Gucci designer but it damn sure features plenty of skeletal drums and bounce. These are the strangest beats that Hov has touched, some trap, some brooding with menace and braggadocio and a piano melody on “Part II” that results (finally) in a Beyoncé feature that works for him. Rap critics may smear MCHG because Jay’s now really part of rap’s 1% crowd but in Year 17 when he’s putting up Jordan circa ’97 numbers, where else is he supposed to sit? 4.0 out of 5

Brando’s Jay-Z Discography Rankings:
1. The Blueprint
2. The Black Album
3. Reasonable Doubt
4. Magna Carta Holy Grail
5. American Gangster