Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come – The Review
November 29, 2006
” Fat titties turn to teardrops as fat ass turns to flab
Sores that was open wounds eventually turn to scab
Trees bright and green turn yellow brown
Autumn called ’em, see all them leaves must fall down, growin old”
Here’s the thing and as with most things, I could be wrong about this. There’s nothing exciting about a Hip Hop album from a well adjusted, comfortable middle aged man. As in all other fields, the best art comes from a state of discomfort.
I sympathize with Jay-Z’s dilemma on Kingdom Come. He’s gone and done what Andre 3000 is willing to give up on without even trying, making a grown up Hip Hop album. Andre said he’s quitting rap because he doesn’t want to be an old man on a stage trying to get the crowd hype. He rather be in a jazz club playing a saxophone or doing something equally suave and age appropriate. Before hearing Kingdom Come, I didn’t at all appreciate Andre’s position, thinking that of the premier lyricists of all time at least ought to give Hip Hop a chance to evolve before quitting on it. After hearing Jay attempt this, I’m not so certain. This album is flat out boring. There’s no hunger, no urgency, no immediacy to any of this music. And without that, there is no compelling reason to replay this thing, no matter how mature and expensive everything sounds.
Kingdom Come has some truly awful songs. That a man who calls himself Jay-Hova should allow a song as God forsaken as “Show Me What You Got” out the studio is enough to cause one to lose belief in the existence of God or Jay as God MC. The rhymes are astonishingly lazy, the beat is earthshakingly bad, the “wave, wave” shit is cornier than Camron in pink and purple; the whole mess makes me cringe everytime it comes on and I fear for humanity when someone starts singing along with it.
“Thirty Something” has a few decent lines in the verses. A thoughtful Jay-Z reflecting on his new found maturity and beating the young ones down with it. One could behind anything so obviously counter to the industry/standard direction. Except of course, the fucking obnoxious chorus. “30’s the new 20?” That’s the best the fucking God MC can come up with? Not to mention that, as Jim Jones (can’t believe I’m referencing, and agreeing with, this horse’s ass) rightly points out, fucking Jay-Z is nearer 40 than 30, soHov ‘s general position doesn’t even make any sense. Couple this with the nightmarish Vegas revue beat he backs the song with and the fact that there’s nothing more uncool than a middle aged person trying to explain why he’s still cool and all that’s missing is Angela Bassett’s presence to prove that Jay-Z is on someHow Stella Get Her Groove Back shit.
“Do You Wanna Ride,” “Hollywood,” and “I Made It” all continue the trend of overly smooove beats, and the last of those offends further as it’s completely redundant. Wasn’t all of The Black Album (which I liked) one big “Mama I Made It” anthem? Why have another of those on his comeback album? And if Jay-Z and Beyonce never collaborate again, it’d be perfectly fine by me. Their track record is abysmal.
As to the good stuff… “Beach Chair” is some pretty new agey stuff, and it’s definitely a take or leave it track. I’ll take it. I think Chris Martin bodies the beat and even if Jay-Z is kind of mumbling half coherent, poorly thought out shit all over the track, I kind of like the overall effect. I’m not calling this a good song, just one that I don’t mind.
Now, “The Prelude” is fire. Jay knows his intros and if he’d spit with half this clarity and relevance on the rest of the album, it might not have been a godforsaken mess. I’m a geek and I don’t always mind hearing Hov brag, plus that Just Blaze beat is some kind of hot, so I quite like title track, “Kingdom Come.” It’s still top notch Jay-Z lyricism but it’s got great imagery, it’s playful and it works. This is acceptable as a big commercial single from any pretender to Biggie’s throne. There ought to be a minimum lyrical bar for any rapper who considers himself halfway decent and this is it. If you must dumb down for your audience, do it without causing fans of well written words to weep blood.
I wasn’t even that enamored of “Lost Ones” when I first heard it, but at this point, I’m willing to declare it the finest track on the album. Dre’s beat has grown on me, and Jay comes right, taking on Dame, B and his dead nephew sensitively and like a man. This track does something different.Hov bypasses the standard diss track and elevates personal issues to a really interesting and compelling artistic statement. Try saying that about “Dig A Hole” with its generic beat, generic threats and lazy lyrics. Jay’s done a seminaldiss song. You might remember a little track called “Takeover” where every line cut deep, leaving Nas and Mobb Deep bloody by the end of the track and credibly threatening the rest of the industry with the kiss off, “for all you other niggas throwing shots at Jigga, you only get half a bar, fuck y’all niggas.” If you ain’t gone spit for real, why spit at all?
“Trouble” actually has some kinda funny lines but the beat is so mind numbingly bad and Jay’s flow so totally off, I finally had to Google the lyrics to figure out what he was saying cause my attention just kep wandering away. Unbelivable how bad some of the beats these legends (Dre- Trouble) and wannabe legends (Blaze – Show Me) make and choose (Jay). I wonder what’s up with their hearing, probably producer’s ear, too many hours in the booth.
That’s three good songs on an album that veers from overly generic to overly smooth, easy listening shit. I’m sure there are people out there who like that kind of thing. Apparently 700, 000 of them this week. I imagine the majority of them also await Britney’s next album with bated breath. If it’s important to you that hip hop have heart and hunger, some kind of vitality to it, this is not the album for you. Probably the best summation of all my arguments in the bonus track, “44 Four’s.” I didn’t go watch Jay-Z perform Reasonable Doubt this Summer, but thanks to the wonder of YouTube, I did get to see him thrill with lyrical prowess, declaring his niceness one line at a time on the new verse to “22 Two’s,” his original “Respect Me, I’mHov ” track. The verse was ill, no hater could deny it. So what does Jay-Z do on the album. He takes the beat to the original track, rerecords it with arena sound and a faked audience that doesn’t compare to the rawness of the original, then delivers the new verse so poorly it loses all the punch it had in concert. Fucker sounds bored with his own shit. So am I.
I’ll leave you with one final thought, one that once again brings in Andre 3000. Go listen to Atliens, an album where for some reason Outkast sounded really grown and contemplative, despite it being their second full length outing. Tell me it’s not more interesting, some sonically innovative, more thoughtful and in every way a better album than this bullshit. Andre really needs to give us some more before he quits.