Jay Z Kingdom Come

Jay-Z’s return to the rap game was one of the worst kept secrets ever. So when the effervescent lead single "Show Me What You Got” finally emerged with Hov announcing himself as the ‘Mike Jordan of recordin,’”, eyebrows were only half-raised as if they were throwing the song’s title back at him. Aside from frontloading the album with certified Just Blaze bangers and issuing thinly-veiled threats at his Dipset foes on "Trouble” and "Dig A Hole,” Jay-Z sets about delivering a mature album — his unstated intention. It’s an admirable attempt, as on "30 Something,” with Dr. Dre riding ominous shotgun, Hova proclaims "30’s the new 20” is the best example of him asserting his corporate CEO position with his customary wit and swagger. But other well-intentioned ideas unfortunately fall flat. "Minority Report” tackles Hurricane Katrina with an appropriately mournful soundscape, but despite his sincerity, Jay-Z is out of his lyrical depth. "Beach Chair” with his most incongruous production partner yet, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, doesn’t fare as badly, yet his introspective yarn feels incomplete. Elsewhere some of his best rhymes are drowned out by surprisingly sluggish and uninspired production, given the big name assists from the likes of Kanye West and the Neptunes. "Lost Ones” scored by Dr. Dre however, where Jay alludes to his fallout with Dame Dash, relationship issues and the death of his nephew, is one of those rare moments where everything is in near flawless alignment. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to save Kingdom Come from being unintentionally a little too reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s underwhelming return to basketball. (Def Jam)