Jay Z is one of Hip-Hops most recognizable icons. You can’t go through his discography without finding several ground breaking tracks that revolutionized rap music. In his latest single, he raps about the fame and success he’s achieved, referring to it as a Holy Grail. However, this isn’t the glorious, self praising track you might expect. This song offers a more somber and melancholy look at the downside of fame.
The low key beat and light piano melody paint a melancholy picture. Combined with one of Justin’s most emotive and compelling deliveries to date, Holy Grail quickly becomes a striking song with a sobering aesthetic. However, Justin easily steals the show from the man in charge. His warm hooks and emotional verses are easily the most compelling thing about this song.
As for Jay Z, well….he’s definitely there. His lyrics definitely have merit. The holy grail he raps about is fame, but it turns out that seeking it isn’t all glory. Speaking of fickle fans who don’t really have his back, the paparazzi that stalk him and his family, and the soul crushing music industry, Jay Z is definitely biting back. It would all be very powerful if Jay didn’t sound so…disinterested. His raps fall flat pretty quickly, simply filling up time before Justin returns. He even samples a short verse from Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, which comes off as gimmicky rather than creative. IN fact, his lyrics generally lack the creativity and beauty that the melody contains.
Overall, Holy Grail has its strengths, but also plenty of opportunities for improvement. Is Jay-Z finally past his prime? This song had the potential to be yet another groundbreaking hit, but simply fell a little flat. Luckily, a strong showing from Justin Timberlake keeps this song from falling off of my playlist completely.
Final Score: 2/5