July 4th, 2013
03:12 PM ET
Jay-Z promised to deliver new rules with "Magna Carta Holy Grail," and, depending on who you ask, the man held true to his word.
The 43-year-old artist released his 12th studio album via app to one million Samsung customers starting at midnight July 4 (albeit not without some technical issues), and the RIAA did in fact revise its standing on digital platinum certification ahead of "Magna Carta's" arrival.
Hov also managed to pull off an impressive promotional feat, having the album cover for "Magna Carta" displayed alongside one of the actual Magna Carta documents at Salisbury Cathedral.
So the marketing has been top-notch, that much we know. But what about the music? Early reactions to the 16-track album have been positive, but critics warn that Jay's latest isn't quite as progressive as his campaigning would lead you to believe.
"During it's two-week build up, innovative roll-out and clever ad campaign, 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' promised something new and inventive to one million Galaxy smartphone users, though it is unclear to what degree it actually delivered," MTV says. "No matter the case, what the album actually contains is the same old recipe which has made Jay-Z so brilliant beginning with his 1996 debut 'Reasonable Doubt.'... [No] matter how futuristic your music distribution methods becomes, banging beats and choice rhymes will always remain timeless."
Billboard, however, thought the album overall "tends to be safe."
"And while it's unfair to measure Jay against others, we're living in a world where 'Yeezus' has risen, and it feels like Jay's dipping a toe rather than fully diving in," the review continued. "When Kanye is heaving bombs from across the court, you can't clap so loud when Jay lobs lay-ups. That's not to say it's not good – it is – [but] sometimes you just want to see some sweat."
USA Today compliments the "breadth of his subject matter - which also touches on family, loyalty, spirituality and fame," and Jay's "lyrical acuity" in a four-star review.
"With platinum status guaranteed even before his album goes on sale July 9, he could have just mailed it in," USA Today says. "But he stays on top, because he refuses to do anything less than epic."
Have you heard "Magna Carta Holy Grail" yet? If so, what's your impression?
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