New school versus old school, student versus teacher, employee versus the employer, or whatever you want to call it…rap veterans like Jay-Z need to step aside and make way for the new legends in hip-hop like J. Cole.
During the past month, hip-hop received major attention from recent album releases. Artists like Wale, Mac Miller, Kanye West, J.Cole, Jay-Z have all dropped their album within two weeks of each other, and hip-hop heads like myself were very happy and excited to hear them all. The two albums that stuck out to me the most are J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” and Jay-Z’s “Manga Carter Holy Grail.”
The first album I listened to was “Born Sinner”, and after spending three days carefully listening from front to back and from back to front, I was immediately blown away. The production was flawless and carefully picked, (J. Cole produced ever track except for two) the lyrics were captivating, and the overall concept of the album was refreshing to listen to especially in this redundant music era. J. Cole proved that the sophomore slump doesn’t apply to him, and in my opinion the word classic is the only way I can describe his album.
On to Jay-Z’s new album. It came out of nowhere, and is titled “Manga Carter Holy Grail.” Straight out the gate, the title made me very skeptical as to what direction Jay-Z wanted to steer with this project. I thought he was going to go down the same horror film soundtrack route that Kanye West’s “Yeezus” chose, but after listening to the album, I wiped my forehead and exhaled with a sigh of relief. Jigga man himself called upon some of hip-hop’s top heavyweight producers to produce tracks on his new album. Producers like Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, Timberland all contributed, and on half of the album they did not disappoint; the other half lacked that sound that I’m used to hearing Jay-Z rhyme on.
This was the first time I actually said to myself that Jay-Z’s lyrics and content were subpar on the Jay-Z scale. Some of the tracks were southern inspired like most current hip-hop songs out today. I felt that Jay-Z didn’t have to stoop to that level in order for him to stay relevant in today’s music industry. The one track that felt like a typical Jay-Z track was a song called “Heaven.” With me being the ultimate Wu-Tang head, I thought this track was produced by the RZA because of the holly snare, and the grittiness of the bass but to my surprise it was produced by Timberland. “Manga Carter Holy Grail” is not a bad album, but if I had to compare it to other Jay-Z albums, it ranks the same as his “Dynasty” and “Kingdom Come albums.”
When comparing the two albums, I feel that casual, and or the die hard fan of Jigga would probably give Jay-Z’s album more praise over J. Cole’s album because of his long track record. But for me… I’m not a casual fan. I am hip-hop head, a historian by some and as objective as I am, I thinks its time for Jay-Z to pass the torch to J. Cole and let him carry the hip-hop torch for the next generation. What’s funny is that J. Cole is signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label imprint as an artist, and it was the employee who schooled the employer. If you’re looking for some slick metaphors and relatable content, pickup J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” album, but if you’re into more club, and stunting music, then pickup Jay-Z’s “Magna Carter Holy Grail” album.
Follow me Orin DeJonge on Twitter and Instagram: @itsmespangooli. Catch me on the radio every Thursday from 11am – 3pm on WCRXFM and WCRXFM.com.