Album: Kingdom Come
Comments: Is anyone surprised by this?
Come on. The minute Jay-Z announced his “retirement” from hip hop on the excellent “Black Album”, I knew that there was no way we wouldn’t get at least 2 more albums out of him in the future. Lo and behold, I was right. Jay-Z has come out of his three year hiatus with “Kingdom Come”. All over the album, Jay makes the claim that he’s back to save hip hop and to rejuvenate the game. Sadly, the only thing that’s going to get rejuvenated from this album is Jay’s wallet.
Anyone who’s not impressed by Jay’s ability probably doesn’t understand rap too well. The fact that he is able to rap off the top of his head without writing is a really impressive thing. Most rappers freestyle every few months, but Jay’s albums are all freestyles in a way. It really is a pretty cool thing. But there’s a downside to this skill, and that is that there is no editing or reworking of his rhymes. That’s why Jay-Z can have 2 great verses and one god awful one on the same song. On “Kingdom Come”, it sounds like retirement has made Jay lazy, because there are a lot more bad verses than there are good on the album.
Another problem with this record comes from the producers Jay is working with. Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and Swizz Beats all produce some truly weak tracks. I’m not even sure that Jay could save these songs even if he was at the top of his game. Certainly not when he’s rhyming about 30 being the new 20, getting with broads, and how back he is.
One of the better songs on the record, produced by Just Blaze, is the soul fueled banger “Oh My God”. The song rips, and it is one of the few times on the album that Jay actually brings some good rhymes. Both the lyrics and beat set the bar high, and the two work very well together. It’s a triumphant track, to be sure, and the only one on the album that supports Jay’s swagger. The other good track is the closer “Beach chair”, which is produced by Chris Martin of Coldplay. Nothing against Martin, but when the lead singer of FUCKING COLDPLAY is making better beats than Dr. Dre and Kanye West, maybe you should have held off on the album for a little bit.
Jay-Z sounds bored, and I know why. Jay isn’t hungry any more, but why would he be? When Jay stepped away in 03, he was on top of the world as the self proclaimed best rapper, and there were a lot of people who agreed with him. He accomplished more than most rappers dare dream; he had the world listening. Anyone can have the world, its keeping the world that’s the problem, and when Jay stepped away, he lost us. Sorry Jay, but its going to take more than some B-side beats and half assed lines to win us back.
Jay compares himself to Jordan on the lukewarm single “Show me What you Got”. If he means coming back after his prime and risking embarrassing his legacy, than he might be right.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Key Tracks: “Oh My God” “Beach Chair” “Kingdom Come”
Worth the Money: No