By: Chris McPherson
His 12th solo album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, has proven to be one of the most talked about albums of the year. In fact, with a million records already sold to Samsung, MCHG has topped the charts with over 500,000 sold in the first week. But the album also shows that when it comes to style, HOV, too, has much to talk about.
The 16-track record marks a new journey for Jay-Z. As he manages his rap career and various business endeavors he also tackles the role of being a caring husband and supportive father (something he never had). He also looks back at his dark past of drugs, violence and hardships. Through all of this Jay-Z happens to share growth and a matured sense of style and fashion. For instance, while the most of the rap game has been popping molly, Jay proclaims, he’d be much more comfortable wearing Tom Ford instead.
In “Picasso Baby,” he gives a shoutout to Italian designer, Roccardo Tsci and Givenchy. “Roccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes, See me thrown at the Met. Vogue’ing on these ni***s” Jay-Z has been spotted wearing Givenchy designed clothes on numerous occasions, while Tisci designed the album artwork for Jay-Z previous collaborative album with Kanye West, Watch the Throne.
The song “Tom Ford” could very well serve as the style mecca of the album. Jay-Z spends over three minutes proclaiming the fashion designer’s name, “Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Tom Ford.” He then goes on to say, “Spend all my Euros on tuxes and weird clothes.” And let’s not forget the hook where Jay-Z seems to separate himself from most rap lyrics in 2013 “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Molly has become popular trend in the hip-hop world and it’s seemed like every rapper endorsed the use of the recreational drug. But Jay-Z would rather be wearing a designer tux. Fashion is his drug.
In the Rick Ross assisted track, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” Ross shares a footwear oxymoron. While he pays homage to athletic shoe and apparel giant, Reebok, he also mentions Nike’s swoosh slogan immediately after. “Reeboks on, I just do it, n***a.” Very clever Rozay.
Jay-Z recruits R&B vocalist Frank Ocean to sing the hook on appropriately named track, “Oceans.” Ocean sings “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo.”
Okay, time for some accessories. Jay-Z sets his eyes on a Rolex Sky-Dweller Watch in “F.U.T.W.,” Fuck Up the World for short. Rose gold, his choice. “High Yellow sky dweller and the rose gold.” He then alludes to the late king of pop and all-around style icon, Michael Jackson. Well not exactly him, but his socks, describing them as “trill.” “You know a n***a trill as Michael Jackson socks.”
He then grabs his shades in “Part!! (On the Run)” with his wife, Beyoncé, by his side. In a sequel to their 2002 duet, “’03 Bonnie and Clyde,” he raps “Blind me baby with your neon lights, Ray Bans on, police in sight.”
Jay-Z continues to explore his fashion evolution in the song when he raps, “This ain’t grey sweat suits and white tube socks, This is black leather pants and a pair of stance, Socks is my synopsis is clear.”
Besides commending Miley Cyrus’s twerk skills in “SomewhereInAmerica.” Jay-Z compares himself to Michael Jordan’s sneaker empire, “I’m just bringing it back, Like Jordan Packs.” He does so again in “Crown” when he says “Jordan 1’s and dungarees.”
“BBC” seems to be the second-most fashion filled song on the album (behind Tom Ford). It also happens to be the most crowded, featuring guest vocals from Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beats, Beyoncé, Nas and Justin Timberlake. There must have been a party in the studio that day. A fashion party.
With lines like “To the polo fleece to the bombers,” “Fila sweats, 88 I rocked a mock neck” and “peep the features Unlaced Adidas,” “BBC” is all about style. A few other lines like “Bally shoes, Gucci sneakers” and “Versace plates for Basquiat, Collab from Versace place” exemplify much more expensive taste.
Closing out the album, Jay-Z dedicates a track to his one-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. He does this while also name-dropping a major brand. “Baby needs Pampers.” You probably won’t see anyone rocking Pampers on the red carpet any time soon, but they are a vital fashion choice every parent is thankful for.