During game five of the NBA Finals tonight (June 16), Jay-Z appeared in a three-minute commercial, during which Mr. Carter announced that his new album, titled Magna Carta Holy Grail, would be out July 4. Simultaneously, www.magnacartaholygrail.com launched.
The video acted as an extended ad for both Jay’s new album and Samsung; at the end, “The next big thing is here,” the company’s most recent catchphrase, flashes across the screen. Watch the ad/album announcement below.
The reason for the pairing? An app will allow 1 million Samsung Galaxy phone and tablet users to download Jay-Z’s new album 72 hours before its release. It’s not technically free, though. Samsung has purchased the massive amount of albums — for $5 each, according to The Wall Street Journal. (It’s unclear whether or not the 1 million albums will count toward the album’s chart and RIAA certifications; Billboard‘s standards currently dictate that an album must cost at least $3.49 during their first four weeks of release in order for them to count toward charting on the Billboard 200.)
It’s a new marketing move that echoes the rapper’s words during the video: “We need to write the new rules.”
The album announcement video features an array of contributors, including Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams, both of whom are behind some of the current music landscape’s heavy hitters. Rubin was an executive producer on Yeezus, while Williams has guested on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s current No. 1 single, “Blurred Lines.”
“How do you navigate your way through this whole thing — you know, through success, through failures, through all this — and remain yourself?” Hova asks, before the song used in the background picks up in intensity, cognizant of recent electronic music trends. Another song, apparently written with Pharrell, sounds fairly reminiscent of “Blurred Lines.”
Magna Carta Holy Grail marks the rapper’s first new album since 2009′s The Blueprint 3, though Jay has been busy, providing guest vocals on Justin Timberlake’s hit “Suit and Tie,” releasing 2011′s Watch the Throne with Kanye and of course, tending to his first child with Beyonce, Blue Ivy Carter.
Coming out of seemingly nowhere to release the album could be an attempt at upstaging from one Throne member to the other. Kanye’s Yeezus drops this Tuesday (June 18) and has already received many rave reviews following its leak, but a Jay-Z album in such quick succession could cut West’s momentum prematurely.
One thing’s for sure: two of the biggest, if not the biggest rappers in the world will have released new records in the warm months. Summer 2013 could go down as a summer of hip-hop, rivalry or otherwise.
Jay-Z will hit the road this July and August alongside Timberlake, on a tour dubbed Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour.
-Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com