I've been up on Jay-Z since his on-wax debut in 1990.
He is, without a doubt, the most credible rap star on the planet. This is, however, despite a number of patchy albums sitting next to his classics. The reason why? It's because he has become so much bigger than the music. But you all know this...
So what's this album like? Well, it has some banging contemporary beats. It has some big name features. But does it have the hits? A few... but I think the biggest issue is the fact that some of his rhymes really sound quite lazy and lethargic. Don't tell me the guy on Tom Ford is as hungry as the guy on Dead Presidents back in the day.
And having Justin on the insipid hook of the lead track just left me cold. Some things, a bit like his past singles such as Sunshine and City Is Mine, just sound too contrived.
But Picasso and other tracks on here still bang hard, and this still ranks as a hip-hop essential for 2013.