Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” — I was finally able to download it this morning after a DefJam rep suggested I update the app on my Samsung Galaxy SIII. It worked. All the “songs” — rather, tracks– came tumbling down into my phone. But not into the Music Player. Into the app itself. It’s not clear that the tracks can move from the Samsung device they’re downloaded into to a computer and then off into the world. And there are now hundreds of posts on the internet about people not being able to download the tracks at all. Again, it does seem that going back into Google Play and updating the app does the trick. Unfortunately, it doesn’t account for the privacy issues that are incurred. The app asks the user to ok a total incursion into the host phone. Really, at this point, who cares? We’re all in a million data banks.
“Magna Carta Holy Grail” is what you’d expect from Jay Z and from hip hop in general in 2013. Long gone are raps about poverty, mistreatment, and survival. It’s all about Things: Jay Z wants a Picasso, he sings about Sothebys and Christie’s auction houses, name drops Lichtenstein. How accessible this is to anyone, let alone the hip hop audience, remains to be seen. Clothing designer Tom Ford gets a song named for him– Ford is Jay Z’s tailor. He’s the most overpriced designer in the world.
The explicit version of “MCHG” is what comes from Samsung, including massive repetitions of the “N” word. This is probably naïve to say, but really — don’t use the word at all, to anyone, from anyone, if you don’t want it embedded in the culture. This word should have died a long time ago. Rappers have kept it alive.
The “songs” aren’t really songs. They’re abrasive, they’re screeds, occasionally punctuated by a sample of an old piece of music. But I do really, really like the title track “Holy Grail” sung by Justin Timberlake and written by his team. Lose the expletive laden rap part and “Holy Grail” is a song I’d rather hear J.T. sing than almost anything on “20/20.” Maybe a song only version will show up on Timberlake’s fall “20/20 part 2” album.
So now that “Magna Carta” is out via Samsung, we’ll have to wait and see if fans buy it themselves next week when it’s really released. That’s what Jay Z and DefJam are hoping for, and that’s what will get them on the charts. Meanwhile, the web is filled with links to illegal downloads. That may not matter either. Jay Z is well aware that selling tickets to live shows is where the money is. His tour with Timberlake is the key to this marketing plan. They play Yankee Stadium later this month.