Sep 27, 2017

Are You Even Listening? (Why Kingdom Come isn't Jay-Z's Worst) words by: Kyle Gill

The project was Grammy nominated for best rap album in 2008, and still outsells more than half his discography to date. Dr. Dre produced four tracks and mixed it in it's entirety. It reached 680,000 sold his first week, and peaking number one on Top 200 billboards. This album was an actual success. In fact, Mr. Carter hadn’t dropped an album in three years and was able to accomplish so much. If you ever listened to this album I’m pretty sure you can relate it to so much while nodding your head to jazzy instruments with a mix of current and new vibrations. So, with all this success surrounding this musical publication, why do people plague this in-depth description of Jay-Z’s mental with the inscription of being the King of Hip-Hop’s worst album? If you really listened to this album I think you can understand why I’m here to telling you the truth. It’s not.

Here's our first argument: The platinum success of Jay-Z’s The Black Album had been three years removed from his return. When someone steps down there is always a shift in what should be and what shouldn’t. With that things tend to change. The sound had gone in a different direction. Around this time the main airwaves were being controlled more by Rock, Pop, and R&B. At a time where High School Musical, and American Idol were thriving and a panic of written sins not tragedies mixed with a chemical romance that had everyone talking about a black parade (did you catch that?) what was hip-hop doing? 

Looking back to 2006 Jigga Man battled other hip-hop successes such as T.I.’s KingP. Diddy’s Press Play Ludacris’s Release Therapy AND still achieved platinum status. Not to mention the airwaves were controlled by Timbaland Productions including Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado both selling over 8 million copies each. We have said all of this without mentioning Lil’ Wayne at the helm of it all with a mixture of hip-hop but more of a pop sound. While Tip coming into his own, S.Carter decides he’s going to drop an album. Unlike everyone else he took it in a different route and changed the setting with soulful instruments and heartfelt lyrics of his mental state. 

No one cared. People bought the album sure, I mean it's Jay-Z but…did you hear the album? 

I mean the format was perfect. This was the hip-hop era of dance, dumbed down music and it was consistent. Jay responds, Hmm...maybe I’ll bring something honest and legit to the table and push the culture this way. I'll drop real music with lyrics that show me in a vulnerable state. The music you don’t hear every day and will leave a mark on hip-hop. No, That’s not going to work? Grammy nomination and platinum displays later it’s still the worst album out of his discography really? It’s a dud? No one will remember anything other than Bleacher Report due to relevance?

Right, that’s why exactly ten years later hip-hop is in the same state. Mumble rap is the new pop with a lack of creativity, and J.Cole can do exactly the same thing as Jay-Z (yeah I said it!). Cole uses the same sound and drops an album in the middle of the musical chaos, and now he can be legendary. He’s one of the best ever right? This shows that Kingdom Come the album wasn’t his worst album of his catalog it really was just before its time.

So I got daughters on the way
If the prophecy's correct
Then the child should have to pay
For the sins of a father (Beach Chair)

And if my children knew, I don't even know what I would do
If they ain't look at me the same
I would prob'ly die with all the shame
"You did what with who?"
"You risked that for Blue?" (4:44)

Blue Ivy was born in 2012. Jay-Z is no fortune teller. With our sound today, if he dropped the ninth studio album it would flourish. It'd probably double its success and I think people argue that it is one of his best. He let you inside a place where no one knows how or what Sean Carter really feels. This album is a rarity. In fact, he’s done this a complete three times: Where he’s from Reasonable Doubt, where he is going which is Kingdom Come, and where he is at his most recent 4:44. Each one of those albums were down played except the latter. Everyone says his first was legendary and arguably his best. Shawn Carter was vulnerable long before this year, and I think most of us just missed it because we weren't clever enough to catch it. It doesn't make sense to name Kingdom Come his worst. Go back and listen. When you do you'll see 4:44 is a clone of Kingdom Come. The only difference is topic and setting but, essentially it is the same. Would you say 4:44 is his worst album?

If Kingdom Come isn't his worst then what is? I would have to argue In My Lifetime Vol. 1 easily. There are only five songs of 14 that are worth it. Honestly, it was definitely lacking after his debut album but Kingdom Come is definitely top five. If you made it this far go back and check it out for yourself. There is a lot you missed on that album and you will see what I’m talking about. When you’re done after the numbers and arguments about if it is or is not the worst album he put out, I just have one question….Are you even listening?

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kingdom Come is definitely not his worst and in better than 4:44 from a technique perspective (his flows, rhymes and wordplay on KC obliterate 4:44).

Vol. 1 is NOT his worst album. That's actually one of his finest works.