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jay-z's kingdom come: the review

Jay-Z announced his retirement from the game in 2003. Nobody believed him. His numerous guest appearances did not help his case much either. After all, he is the self proclaimed Michael Jordan of Rap, right? Well, His Airness left the game he dominated at the top but came back. Twice! After the long draught and all the guessing games, the speculation is ended. Fresh off an international tour, “Young is back!” And so is New York. At least, that’s what he claims on Kingdom Come. Here’s my breakdown.

The Prelude
It features an appropriate intro from the movie, The Mack where a pimp trying to change his stripes is quizzed on how he intends to survive without the hustle, apparently all he knows. This is the Jay-Z story; embodied in lines like: "Forget this rap shit, I need a new hustle/a little bit of everything, the new improved Russell/I say that reluctantly cuz I do struggle/As you see, I can't leave so I do love you/ but I'm just a hustler disguised as a rapper/In fact, you can't fit this hustle inside of a rapper." The beat is simple and he flows effortlessly on it as he tells his tale of how he rose to the level he’s at now. A decent little track to get the ball rolling.

Oh My God
Just Blaze dips into his bag of tricks again and brings those drums out to play. Jay-Z on his part comes out and gets his swagger on, bragging on how he’s been the man and younger rappers don't come close. He even references 'Mama Naija' to try and get his point across: "Shooting airballs at the basket/what you call money, I pay more in taxes/I got crowned King down in Africa/out in Niger(ia)/do you have any idea/sold out shows, albums whole career/Jo'burg, Dublin, Tanzania/Lunch with Mandela, dinner with Cavali/Still got time to give water out to everybody/Everybody, fall back!" The best bit of the track though, has to be the playful hook with the blonde chicks going, “Oh My God... Hov!”

Kingdom Come
"Now I don't know what life will be, in H-I-P-H-O-P without the boy H-O-V; not only NYC, I'm hip hop's savior, so after this flow you might owe me a favor." That's how Young Hovito starts the track to bring himself, New York and hip hop as a whole back. Lyrically, this song is on point. The beat is sweet, the flow is perfect and he gets his point across. The hook does let it down a bit but the verses are superb. Plus ending each verse as a top superhero (Superman: "Just when you thought the whole world fell apart/I take off the blazer, loosen up the tie, step in side the booth, Superman is alive"; Spiderman: "Flash Gordon when recording/spark a light in the dark/Peter Park(er), Spiderman, all I do is climb the charts" and then Batman: "The Bruce Wayne of the game have no fear/when you need me just throw your Roc signs in the air/Yeah!") was a brilliant touch.

Show Me What You Got
It was hard to believe that this was his comeback single for real but it grows on you, especially after hearing it on blast at the club. It is a very playful track and clearly done for the ladies to dance to. He is at his witty best as far as lyrics go (“I got a drop/I just took off the top/it’s your turn”) and the playful hook gets you singing along on the dance floor. It is the simplicity of it that makes it hot.

Lost Ones featuring Chrissette Michelle
This is a collection of three brilliant verses and an expertly sung hook by newcomer Michelle. It is without a doubt one of the album’s bright spots. The opening line directed at his ex-partners sets the tone for the track: "I heard mu'fuckas saying they made Hov/made Hov say ok so, make another Hov!"

Do U Wanna Ride featuring John Legend
If you put Jay-Z, Kanye West and John Legend together in a room, you will expect nothing short of magic to occur. On this track, the trio does not disappoint. Jigga’s lyrics, Kanye’s music and Legend’s soulful crooning equals hot track. Period. The opening lines are riveting and represent things that make you go hmmm: "You know why they call The Project, A Project?/because it's a project/an experiment/we're in it only as objects/and the object is for us to explore our prospects..."

30 Something
Jay rides this Dr. Dre banger superbly as he draws a clear demarcation between himself and younger rappers. The lyrics are also interesting and very fitting as he throws lethal jabs in this game of verbal slap boxing such as: “I’m afraid of the future/ya’ll respect the one who got shot/I respect the shooter.” Make sense, don’t it?

I Made It
A nice soulful track with befitting complementary flow and lyrics. Jay is always best on these introspective, personal tracks but this one may be a bit too much. It is a good track by all means but you feel you’ve heard it before, with lines like: "I told you one day, I'd get you a home/I didn't know it could possibly be in Rome." This is basically the problem with this album, nothing really new or surprising from Shawn Corey. Honestly though, I like it a lot but in the grander scheme of things, this should have been for mama's ears only.

Anything featuring Pharrell & Usher
Jay-Z should not have boarded the Neptunes mother ship for this one. It has him summoning the double time spitting flow again but Pharrell might have gone a bit too far with this one and Usher appears uncomfortable on the hook. Jay manages to ride the beat and talk to the ladies ("No roof on my car but I got mirrors on the ceiling/I spread bread on the bed, ever had sex on these millions")but I think Mr. Williams made this with himself in mind because I can hear him doing this song on his own.

Hollywood featuring Beyonce
No disrespect to R. Kelly but Jay-Z and ‘his girlfriend’ have, over their six collaborations, appeared to be the Best of Both Worlds. Since “03 Bonnie & Clyde” they still manage to excite fans when they deliver a one two punch. The bounce on this one is crazy and they both ride it like the superstars they are. "Paparazzi spots me in the lobby of my highrise/I hide, behind my shades, because the fame is blinding my eyes/My God...Born in Brooklyn, got a place in Manhattan/Going back to Brooklyn to escape the madness!" Lights. Camera. Action.

Jay-Z and this beat seem to be in disagreement as he sounds to be moving ahead of it all over the track. Some gems do manage to sneak in though, like: "but if my chick leave me, she gonna leave me for something/she gon leave me cuz Halle, she ain't gonna leave me for nothing.../if my hand's in the cookie jar, know one thing/I'ma take the cookie, not leave my ring."

Dig a Hole featuring Sterling Simms
The thumping bass and supercharged vocals of Mr. Simms get one up on Hov on this one. On this dis track to the DipSet, his sharpest darts are: "We've forgotten our history, let's open our Bibles/it's like the Disciples dissing JESUS becoming his rival/.../I keep my enemies close/give them enough rope/they put themselves in the air/I just kick away the chair/.../Only time you went plat/my chain was on your neck, that's an actual fact/.../Niggas playing checkers with chess playing Hov/this game is over, I dunno if ya'll know/you're in a hole!" The beat and hook outshine young H-O’s lyrics on an average track.

Minority Report featuring Ne-Yo
Jay-Z’s flow is dumbed down to a whisper to convey the sincerity of his concern on the state of affairs in the world around him. The riveting piano loop and rainfall in the background are the best parts of this song. Both Jay & Ne-Yo seem uncomfortable riding this track but Hov manages to drop some thought provoking jewels of knowledge on his solitary verse that make you go hmmm, like: "Silly rappers cuz we got a couple Porshes/MTV stop by to film our fortresses/we forget the unfortunate/sure I ponied up a mil but I didn't give my time/so in reality, I didn't give a dime or a damn/I just put my monies in the hands of the same people that left my people stranded/nothing but abandoned!"

Beach Chair featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay
This song starts off as a brilliant collaboration that no one would have dreamt of before Jay-Z retired. Messrs Carter and Martin complement each other beautifully on this one and you are transferred to another dimension beyond this earth. The Coldplay frontman's sonic masterpiece is blessed by possibly Jigga's deepest narrative ever in his letter to his unborn daughter: "Karma's got me fearing like, Colleek are you praying for me/see I got demons in my past so I got daughters on the way/if the prophesy's correct, then the child should have to pay/for the sins of the father/so I barter my tommorows/against my yesterdays/and hopefully she'll be okay/and when I'm no longer here/to shade her face from the glare/I give her my share of Carol's Daughter and a new beach chair." However, after about two minutes, the song gets tedious and you are just waiting for it to end. A good effort but they seem to lose it towards the end. Unfortunately.

So in the final analysis, this is a good album but not the great album Jay spoke about. It plays like a sequel to The Black Album as it pretty much follows the same pattern. The album proves, however, that lyrically, Jay is still up there with the best of them, that is, if he isn’t the best himself. The problem is that he is saying stuff he has said a million times over, just in a new way (and that is not always the case, really). Before the album was done, he said he needed about two more songs for it to be great. I guess he didn’t get those songs then. This is an 8 out of 10 at best. Not bad for a rap album; but this isn’t just any rap album; this is the god MC's comeback album! The Michael Jordan of rap!

Well, I guess this is the Washington Wizards album then.

Blog Marley out like Hov’s new CD! Go cop it now!

Good Job Don Chi! I've been playing this album since last week and you're right about the tracks that stand out and the ones that are just "ok'. As a whole though, I really like it and I'd recommend a buy.

So word is that there is another This Day festival coming up. Can we expect another Re-cap?

Yes, I too am searching for a review of the second This Day Music Concert...my son is there now and there is not a peep on the Internet anywhere. You would again have the scoop! We're waiting!...

Hope you had a good year!

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