Looking at the legacy of Jay Z, most would agree that he is one of the most influential rappers of all time. From his music to his United Nations campaign to help with the world wide water shortage, there is no question about the now 45 year old rapper’s global impact. Jiggaman’s musical career is unarguably the most impressive, his achievements within the industry consisting of: 7 BET Awards, 21 Grammy’s and every one of his solo albums becoming RIAA certified platinum.
Obviously people do enjoy his music but it is now apparent the game might be moving too fast for the father of 3 year old Blue Ivy Carter. Many rappers now are in their twenties or even still teenagers. There is an obvious generational gap between HOV and the current culture around hip hop. With him releasing music for almost twenty years, it might be time for Mr. Carter to hang up the cleats.
Due to his earlier albums being some of the best works in the entire history of hip hop, it is not hard to see the decline in the quality of music Jay has been putting out over the past few years. Recent albums that had the capacity to be great like Watch The Throne and Magna Carta Holy Grail resulted as lackluster despite heavy production. One of the biggest disappointing factors with MCHG was with just the producer lineup alone. With producers like Timbaland, Pharrell, Travis $cott, Hit-Boy and Mike Dean, it had the potential to be one of the top rap albums of the modern era so it doesn’t make sense for the album to be subpar. That being said, the disappointment has to be due to our “man in questioning” not being able to carry the album with his MCing. Like stated earlier, Magna Carta Holy Grail did reach platinum sales and did get Grammy nominations but it has obviously not lasted in the long run. With little to no talk about the album just two years later, it seems to have faded into the deep depths of hip hop. The album did receive mixed reviews critically as well, with a 5.8 out of 10 from Pitchfork and a 5 out of 10 from Spin Magazine. With the instrumentals being the only highlights on the album, it remains obvious that this album is a fraction of the quality of music that was given on The Black album or Reasonable Doubt.
It seems now that Jay has reached a god status which has caused him to become lazy and unrelatable in his raps. In the beginning of his career he was known for being a gangster and his ability to balance his braggadocios rhymes with stories of hustling on the streets. Now that hte lives in mansions and attempts to fuck Queen B in between tours, he has completely lost that balance. While growth by artists is never a bad thing, it seems Jay has transformed into a completely new person who is totally out of touch with the average hip hop fan. One can only listen to someone brag about unimaginably expensive things for so long before it gets old. With lines like
Twin Buggattis outside the art base // l just wanna live life colossal // Leonardo Da Vinci flows Riccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes // See me throning at the Met
it is impossible to make it through HOV’s recent rhymes without checking rap genius, then looking at your bank account and shedding a tear.
Additionally, other than a few features he hasn’t put out much new music since Magna Carta Holy Grail. This might not have been such a bad thing. It is rumored that a joint Beyoncé-Jay Z album might be in the works, and maybe this album should be put on hold. It would most likely be released through Tidal which HOV has been putting most of his time in lately. With the music streaming service receiving much back lash it might be another example of the rapper’s failed business projects. While it has only been under the leadership of Jay since March it hasn’t picked up much steam. No free membership and the service costing more a month than Spotify, it doesn’t sound very interesting. It might be the harsh truth but it seems Young HOV is long past his prime.
I would love to hear old school Jay on a The Neptune’s reunion album or something of that nature but I am afraid those days are far gone. From the cringy feature on Drake’s “Pound Cake” to the laughable feature on Kanye’s “Monster,” it is obvious Jay hasn’t been able to fit into the modern rap world. While he does have his place near the top of many “Best Rappers Alive” lists he has been disappointing fans for years. Maybe with a big life event we will get a new sound from Jigga, but until then we are left with a Jay-Z that nobody wants.