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Music Review: Jay Z – Kingdom Come

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He's the Mike Jordan of recording and like Number 23, he comes out of retirement to much fanfare. But also like Jordan, Jay Z seems to suffer the same outcome.

In spite of its shortcomings, the album is comparable, for the most part, to his other albums – not in comparison to those of other rappers. Kingdom Come is still far better than most hip hop albums out today. Much like Jordan, because of physical incapability, he could not keep up with the athletes he himself had inspired, athletes that had grown up trying to leap over the bar he had set. Most of the tracks find Jay embracing his maturity, his movement away from the brashness and gaudiness of his youth. Like the lyrics to "30 Something" say, "I'm young enough to know which car to buy, yet grown enough not to put rims on it" and "I don't buy out the bar, I bought the nightspot."

But ultimately, it doesn't live up to the high standards he himself set for the rap world. It is that brashness, coupled with his hustler narratives, that make us love him so much. And though I enjoy his new narrative influences, the Superman theme in "Kingdom Come," and the Jesus self-comparison in "Dig a Hole," it's just not the same.

My favorite tracks: "Kingdom Come" – Much has been written about this track since it was first leaked. Just Blaze's usage of Rick James' "Superfreak" (with arrangements by ?uestlove), though not one of his best, is interesting in its savior imagery, "Not only NYC, I'm hip hop's savior."

"Beach Chair" – In a time when rap songs are not listened to for the lyrics but for the beats, how is it that with songs produced by some of hip-hops most talented beatmakers — Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, and Pharrell — the best track comes from rock's Chris Martin?

"Hollywood" featuring Beyonce – Just about any collaboration with his wildly famous other half is destined to be a hit and I'm sure if this is released, it will be. It's insanely infectious, especially to the non-hip hop purist. (Hip hop heads would probably think this song akin to blasphemy.) I can't get it out of my head as I push repeat, again.

"Anything" featuring Usher and Pharrell – I didn't expect this from Jove, with the new, grown up image, CEO, practically married to Beyonce, but it's still enjoyable. Not quite a club jam but it couples his swift, brash flow with Usher's R and B smoothness over Pharrell's chill bounce. Almost a throwback piece, with lightness and sexual charisma, from one of his earlier albums.

Nice and Smooth said "Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick." For me, Jay always seems to fair better when his flow has a bit of quickness to it, perhaps it makes things sound a bit more clever than they already are.

"Minority Report" – The most poignant of all the tracks, this one contains his view of Hurricane Katrina and the governmental mistakes that followed. It gives us a sense of sincerity and  should probably be the one that shines through most.

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  • Reggie

    I hear what you are saying, but how could you leave out, Do you wanna ride? that song is bananas. the lyrics are crazy, “the kingpin of the ink pen, the monster of the double entondra” as a true hip hop fan from the days of EPMD, BDK, Rakim, KRS ONE, the thing i love most about Jay-Z is the fact that he is constantly evolving, growing. as his life changes, his music changes, as it should. i think we have all seen the artist who sells millions of records and moves out of the projects to a big house with his/her kids in private school to only have him/her to come out and try to tell the same tales of hood life when they are so far removed. as an adult my views have changed, my environment has changed, my desires have changed and my taste in music has changed. as i grow, Jay-Z grows, and that’s why Kingdom Come is an excellent album. and yeah there are a couple of tracks that aren’t as good as others but even those are far better than the easily digestible remedial nursery school ryhmes that flood the airwaves. evolution is envitable, and Jay-Z has proven that time and time again.

  • jimmy

    god MC!

  • Courtney Walker

    To Reggie who left a comment, I was actually was going to include ‘Do You Wanna Ride’ in my list of favorites, I play that almost as much as Hollywood and Beach Chair. The intro where he apologizes – “Told you I ain’t too good with writin’ letters, Shit I don’t even write rhymes’. I agree you with on the fact that as his life changes, his music changes.

  • Mike T

    I wasn’t expectin much from this album before I heard, and really have never big a big jigga fan. I like alot of songs but thought he was corny. This album though has changed my mind. This is what a hip-hop album should be, not a bunch of guest appearances, no label mates all over the tracks. Every song is good, and 4 are great. The beat on Kingdom Come is crazy hot, Beach Chair is tight on tight and song by Kanye w/ John Legend is purposeful.

  • This album is shit! Jay should’ve stayed retired with his ugly ass face. Nas is the real king of hip-hop!

  • Kaizen

    I am still not sure about this album… I felt it was trying to be like the Black Album… It’s a good album, but for a comeback… it’s not great….

    Big Jay Fan…

  • Rod Kasai

    not bad 3.5 of 5

  • Unknon

    Diz album iz rough & anyone who don’t like him don’t kno muzik if they can’t reckonize a tru m.c.