Jay-Z often claims to be the greatest person to have ever existed. Given his incredible success as a rapper/producer, dating Beyonce Knowles and being critically regarded as one of the greatest emcees of all time, his narcissism is actually pretty justified. While his arrogance usually seeps into his music as well, it’s forgivable, as he often is as great a rapper as he claims. On Kingdom Come however, he fails to back it up.
There are a number of single-worthy tracks where he rhymes about how awesome he is, how rich he is, or how lucky the music industry is to have him back after his long hiatus–sometimes he even manages to squeeze it all into a single hook. As a whole, though, the album achieves about the same lyrical complexity as a drunk yelling, “Do you have any idea who I am!?” at a cop.
While Kingdom Come doesn’t even begin to approach the greatness of The Blueprint or even The Black Album, it does attempt to keep up with current trends in production. Moving away from the electro-pop club cuts popular before Jay-Z “went into retirement,” it embraces the now-more-popular Kanye West faux-live sound. It’s hard to fault an artist for trying to keep up with the times, but the sometimes-clumsy mixing makes it painfully clear that he hasn’t been in the game for quite a while.
Flaws of the disc aside, Jay-Z is right that many fans will appreciate his return–even if it is lackluster. The promise of another Blueprint after he gets back into practice is a little too appealing to dismiss him as a washup just yet. With any luck, it won’t be long before Jay-Z is once again running this rap shit.