Jay-Z doesn't show us what he's got

Dec. 11, 2006, midnight | By Betsir Zemen | 15 years, 8 months ago

"Kingdom Come" disappoints

Barely two years after retiring in 2004, Jay-Z is back with his highly anticipated album "Kingdom Come." Head of Def Jam Records and one of the most successful living rappers, Jay-Z has set high standards for rap with his previous albums including Reasonable Doubt and Black Album. Unfortunately, Jay-Z can't seem to make the kingdom succumb to liking his new album.

The album starts weak with "The Prelude," a short intro track in which Jay-Z rambles non-stop over a repetitive beat. He complains about how hard it is to be a rapper and a CEO, but still manages to slip in just how much he made last year; a sweet sounding 38 million. On a less serious note, Just Blaze produces the track "Oh My God," a vintage beat and hook of "Oh My God, Jov," which make it hard to take the song seriously.

Some of the better tracks come consecutively, starting with the track named after the album "Kingdom Come." His flip of Rick James' "Superfreak" features his more energetic flow, in which he claims "I'm Hip Hop's savior/ so after this flow you might owe me a favor" in the hook. One of the singles off the album "Show Me What You Got" is a dance track and club banger that emulates Jay-Z's rapping talent and free flow.

One of the best songs on the entire album, "Lost One," features Chrisette Michele singing a soulful hook. The catchy beat and piano melody coupled with the heavy base greatly improve the track. Jay-Z speaks of his split with Dame Dash, his past break-up with Beyonce, and his nephew's death in the car he had bought him. His deep lyrics regarding hard times in his life, in which he wisely states "Can't run from the pain, run towards it," makes the track even more heartfelt.

Jay-Z's streak of high-quality songs ends with "30 Something," a track with a catchy beat but a stupid concept. 36 year old Jay-Z brags of his maturity and age and states, "Young boys gotta chill/ thirty is the new twenty." His arrogance rears its ugly head again in the track "I Made It." Another one of the poorer quality tracks, "Hollywood," featuring Beyonce, has another pleasing beat but an irrelevant concept and hook as Beyonce sings, "It's the Lights! Action! Hollywood!"

"Anything" featuring Usher and Pharrell and "Trouble" are both tracks that sound like a weaker, less vivacious version of previous Jay-Z tracks.

Jay-Z manages to revive the album a little by ending with two of the stronger tracks. "Minority Report," featuring Ne-Yo, displays Jay-Z's maturity and depth in a track about Hurricane Katrina and the lack of care towards minorities. His sadder, less up-beat tone and Ne-Yo's expressive hook make this a meaningful track. "Beach Chair" featuring Cold Play's Chris Martin is one of the best collaborations on the album, and the whispery melody and low beat complement the quality of the track.

Despite a few jewels, Jay-Z's "Kingdom Come" doesn't come close to the talent he has displayed in previous albums. Though Jay-Z may be a diamond in the rough, his album has undoubtedly lost some of its usual glitz and glamour.

Betsir Zemen. More »

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