So much ink has been spilled about Jay-Z's "comeback" that you'd be forgiven if you spin "Kingdom Come" expecting a blinding light of salvation to explode from your speakers. Breathless music writers nearly lost their collective mind when Jigga announced that his retirement ("casual hiatus" might be more accurate) was over and he was returning with his eighth studio album.
While Jay-Z wrestles with aging and his dual status as rap superstar and boardroom big shot, there's a fatal sense of ennui that drags down nearly every track. "Minority Report" and the limp Chris Martin-penned closer "Beach Chair" are thematic misfires, while "Do U Wanna Ride" should feel a lot more engaged than it does.
For as enthusiastically as he touted his retirement, Jay-Z is just as emphatically explaining that he'll "never say never again." The question you have to ask yourself is: If all of Jigga's future records sound as labored and flat as "Kingdom Come," do we really need him back?
- Preston Jones