Opinion: Jay-Z And Samsung Are Selling The Concept Of Selling Out

Jay-Z’s Next Album, ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail,’ Is About Everything But The Music, And That’s The Point

When you’re watching the three-minute teaser for Jay-Z’s upcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail, it is easy to forget that it is really just a lengthy commercial for Samsung. A mostly hand-held, Fade to Black-like snapshot of Jay in the studio recording and attempting Ray Lewis-like speeches to his crew of producers and engineers is sorta exciting if you don’t think about it too hard. Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, and Timbaland are all there! That one beat almost sounds like the theme song to River’s Edge or something, and then it goes dubstep, but, like, real U.K. dubstep, not the hammy brostep wub-wub heard on Watch the Throne’s “Who Gon’ Stop Me” (and yes, we know Flux Pavilion is English)!

Samsung has purchased a million copies of the upcoming Jay album and will be providing it to their Galaxy phone customers three days before the record enters stores and digital locations like iTunes. This is a low-key commercial for an imminent Jay-Z/Samsung game of synergy that is going to sell what will be just another Jay-Z album as a slab of high-minded rap art and Who Moved My Cheese?-esque business brilliance all at once, when it’s really neither.

Jay-Z’s Twitter ramped up this angle, presenting Samsung’s plan as some kind of paradigm-shifting rocking of the industry: “If 1 Million records gets SOLD and billboard doesn’t report it, did it happen? ha. #newrules #magnacartaholygrail Platinum!!! VII IV XIII.” That tweet is way more revealing than it probably intends to be. Namely, it is evidence that the distribution model and corporate involvement surrounding this album is what actually matters. His business plan for promoting the album is based on the idea of the album as a business plan.

Read the rest of this piece at Spin.com