I was raking my brain trying to think of what song off Magna Carta, Holy Grail to post. Jay-Z albums are hip-hop events at this age. Problem was, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it; it was an un-event. Maybe it was the humble headphones I listened to the leak of the LP through last week, or maybe it was my own fatigue (literal and figurative). Whatever the case, MCHG was most disappointing in that it didn’t elicit any strong feelings from me in any direction. I was in the same white faux-leather chair I started the journey on.
Then Jay got on Twitter and folks abandoned their work day in hopes of getting acknowledged by one of rap’s elite. It was amusing though innocent, until someone asked Jay about “DP3,” or “Dead Presidents 3,” a sequel to one of Jay’s finest tracks from his 1996 debut album. Jay tweeted that Young Guru, the song’s producer and Jay’s longtime session engineer, had free reign to release it. Now here we are.
Personally, this is the most enjoyable Jay-Z release in a long while. Maybe it’s the nostalgia — I mean after all, Jay does re-appropriate his own former flow on the track, updating references and playing off the original — but it feels good to hear Jay sounding like himself. Cocky, slick, witty and unapologetic, Jay shows a glimpse of why, at one point, he wasn’t the lovable cool guy with mainstream appeal but the subversive young street entrepreneur that unsettled many.