Jay-Z has revolutionized the business of hip-hop time and again throughout his illustrious career, and it looks like the Marcy Projects native raised the bar once again with the upcoming July 4 release of his 12th solo LP, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
Hov captivated television audiences on Sunday night when he debuted a three-minute commercial for Holy Grail at the start of half-time of the NBA Finals game 5 between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. The spot was backed by Samsung in an effort to promote their Galaxy smartphones and tablets and it featured Jay in the studio conceptualizing his new LP alongside esteemed producers Rick Rubin, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and Pharrell Williams.
It’s all pretty fancy, but the impressive part is that the LP is already platinum before even hitting the stores. Here’s the hook: Samsung has purchased one million copies of Magna Carta and will give them to users of the Samsung Galaxy III, Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note II users or free, three days before the LP drops. Samsung reportedly paid $5 apiece for the albums; you can download the mobile app for the album beginning June 24.
The clip began with a majestic piano hook and Jay asking, “What the hell is that?” as he got more and more into the hypnotic groove. He then explains to super-producer Rubin (who, of course, also executive produced Kanye West’s Yeezus), “Pretty much what the album is is it’s this duality of, ’How do you navigate through this whole thing, through success through the failures, through all this and remain yourself?’ ”
With Rubin chilling on a couch and tapping his feet to the piano loop, Jay explains to his team that there are no more rules of the music game and that the Internet has turned it into the wild, wild west. “We need to write the new rules,” he says, as Timbaland plays some air keyboards and Jay closes his eyes to feel the vibe just when the speakers get blown out.
The unnamed track continues to build, with Jay, Rubin, Tim and Swizz feeling it for a minute before Jigga starts to freestyle some sounds over a different song. “That ain’t supposed to work, not against these lush sounds and live instrumentation,” he announces to the X-Men-style group of production superheroes. “That’s what hip-hop is, it’s the emotion!” Jay also posted redacted pictures of the mixing console, lyric sheets and other studio images on the album’s official site.
The news comes just two days before Jay’s buddy West is set to release Yeezus in a very unorthodox way with no traditional singles or album covers to help promote. There is no word yet on whether Hov will drop a single of his own in advance of the LP, but in the spot he tossed around the idea of completing the album and simply just dropping it for the world to hear. “The idea is to really finish the album and drop it,” Jay says. “Giving it to the world at one time and letting them share it and it goes out.”
The Jay announce drove fans wild, with an avalanche of tweets at the #magnacartaholygrail hashtag, including @cruzerrr308, who wrote, “Damn this new HOV album got me pumped!,” and @SamGunnion adding, “This Jay-Z/Samsung thing is such a cool way to release and promote an album.”
Magna Carta will be Jay’s first solo studio album since 2009’s The Blueprint 3 and it’s possible he will perform some tracks when he hits the road with Justin Timberlake beginning on July 17 for the Legends of Summer Tour.