Jay Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’: Four Things to Know

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Put your hands in the air… Actually, put them in the air and form them into a triangle shape for Jay Z’s much-anticipated Magna Carta Holy Grail album release. In an titular marketing move, the Hova will be issuing his 12th studio album on July 4 as a free download for the first million Samsung Galaxy users through an app (which Samsung purchased from the rapper for $5 each), and it will go on sale to the rest of us common folk on July 7. He’s been releasing tidbits about the album through a series of genius marketing tactics and is even changing the way the RIAA is counting record sales. Fellow collaborator and rapper Kanye West may have to step aside with Yeezus because the amount of energy (and dollars) Jay Z and Samsung is spending to promote his new album is overshadowing it. Here are five things to know about the album so you won’t be confused  by the water cooler talk when you get back from the 4th of July holiday:

1. The title of Magna Carta Holy Grail sounds like Jay Z is riding on some of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code vibes. He released the artwork for the album today in the most interesting fashion–by encasing it in a glass case as an art installation at the Salisbury Cathedral in England next to one of the four original copies of the actual 1215 Magna Carta, as he revealed on his website, Life + Times. It will be on display through the month of July.

2. Jay-Z may be inspiring the RIAA to change their ways! The RIAA announced through their blog on July 1 that they will amending their practices (conveniently just in time for his album release) and will be counting digital album sales towards the Gold and Platinum certification immediately instead of waiting the traditional 30 days for after a physical album release. The policy had been put into place to account for returned merchandizing, but since digital downloads can’t be returned, the RIAA decided to change its policy. Since Samsung already purchased a million copies of the album, that may already put Magna Carta Holy Grail in the running for platinum certification.

3. However, Billboard isn’t budging and they’ve already announced they won’t be counting the million copies Samsung purchased for their albums chart, even though Jay Z tried his best to convince them. They raise the question as to what actually constitutes as album sales–the fact that people purchased an album or that they were given it for free.

4. Jay-Z has been slowly releasing clues to the songs, samples, and collaborations on the album. A full track list has been revealed, it has been confirmed Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean are featured on a couple of songs, and samples from REM’s “Losing My Religion” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are used. And the theories surrounding Jay-Z that he is a member of the Illuminati? He combats them too with such acerbic wit with his lyrics in track, “Heaven”: “Conspiracy theorist screaming/lluminati/They can’t believe this much skill is in the human body.” BOOM. Cue sound of a mic dropping on the ground.

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