Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" Tracklist Decoded

posted July 10, 2013 02:45:00 PM CDT | 25 comments

Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" Tracklist Decoded

The musical and business teams who worked with Jay-Z on "Magna Carta Holy Grail" are revealed in detail, from Justin Timberlake and Timbaland to executives Todd Pendelton and Jay Brown.

Jay-Z made headlines for the unconventional release of Magna Carta Holy Grail, which he initially delivered for free via an app for Samsung users. But other than a commercial announcing the project during the NBA finals and lyric sheets from songs on the album, little was revealed about the collection.

MySpace.com has published "The Definitive Guide to Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' Album Credits," highlighting the musical and business teams that helped make Jigga's new album, which was recorded at New York City's Jungle City Studios and Oven Studios. The detailed information, including the guest appearances, is available on the CD version of the LP, but not on the album's Spotify stream, for instance, which lists only a few vocal contributors.

On the feature side, Magna Carta Holy Grail includes a number of A-List artists. Justin Timberlake contributes vocals to "Holy Grail" and "BBC" and writing to "Holy Grail," Heaven," "BBC" and "Jay Z Blue." The former 'N Sync member also provided additional production to "Jay Z Blue." Frank Ocean contributed vocals and writing to "Oceans," while Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce, appears on "BBC" and "Part II (On The Run)." Nas co-wrote and appears on "BBC" and Rick Ross delivers vocals and writing on “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt.” 

The-Dream, who worked with Beyonce on "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" and Rihanna on "Umbrella," wrote on "Holy Grail" and "Heaven," and produced on "Holy Grail." "SomewhereInAmerica" was co-written by Darhyl "DJ" Camper Jr.

Jay-Z Works Extensively With Timbaland On Magna Carta Holy Grail 

Long-time Jay-Z producers return on Magna Carta Holy Grail, but the Brooklyn rapper also gives some lesser-known beatsmiths an opportunity on his new album, which is filled with songs that are produced by more than one person. The beats are handled in large part by Timbaland, who did track work on "Holy Grail," "Picasso Baby," "Tom Ford," "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt," "Oceans," "F.U.T.W.," "Heaven," "Versus," "Part II (On the Run)," "Jay Z Blue" and "La Familia." As a writer, Timbaland gets credit on "Holy Grail," "Picasso Baby," "Tom Ford," "F.U.T.W.," "Heaven," "Versus," "Part II (On the Run)," "BBC," "Jay Z Blue" and "La Familia." Timothy Mosley also supplied vocals on "BBC."

Timbaland's right-hand man Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon handled production duties on "Holy Grail," "Picasso Baby," "Tom Ford," "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt," "F.U.T.W.," "Heaven," "Part II (On the Run)," "Jay Z Blue" and "La Familia." As a writer, Harmon earned credit on "Holy Grail," "Picasso Baby," "Tom Ford," "F.U.T.W.," "Heaven," "Versus," "Part II (On the Run)," "Jay Z Blue" and "La Familia."

As for other veterans, Pharrell Williams produced "BBC" and "Oceans," and contributes vocals on "BBC," too. Mike Dean, who has worked extensively with Scarface and Kanye West and also contributed to Watch The Throne, contributed production and writing on "SomewhereInAmerica," "Crown" and "Nickels and Dimes." Longtime production contributor Swizz Beatz provided vocals on "BBC" and production and writing on "Versus."

Hit-Boy follows up his "Niggas In Paris" Watch The Throne smash with production and writing work on "SomewhereInAmerica." Boi-1da and Vinylz make their Hova production debut with "F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt." Travi$ Scott handles writing and production on "Crown." Mike WiLL-Made It and Marz share production and writing credit on "Beach Is Better." Hip Hop Since 1978 mogul and former Jigga manager Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua worked on production and writing on "Nickels and Dimes."

The most noteworthy credit on Magna Carta Holy Grail may be that of Wondagurl, the 16-year-old who produced "Crown," according to the MySpace.com article, though her name is not listed on the liner notes of the CD version of the album as a producer of the song. She is, however, given additional programming credit on "SomewhereInAmerica." "The Ontario, Canada high school student was inspired to make the beat for 'Crown' after hearing Pusha T's 'Blocka,' building the cut around a sample of reggae star Sizzla's 'Solid as a Rock,'" as per MySpace.com. "After sending the rack to G.O.O.D. Music signee Travi$ Scott, thinking it'd be a good fit for Pusha, the track ended up reaching Jigga's ears and the rest, as they say, is history. How's that for a career kickstart?"

Magna Carta Holy Grail Features Samples Of Nirvana, R.E.M.

Known for featuring samples of a wide array of artists in his work, Jay-Z continues that trend on Magna Carta Holy Grail. The album opens with "Holy Grail," which samples rock group Nirvana's smash 1991 single "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Hov keeps the rock vibes going on "Heaven," which samples R.E.M.'s 1991 cut "Losing My Religion." 

The work of Adrian Younge, who released the acclaimed Twelve Reasons To Die album with Ghostface Killah earlier this year, is sampled multiple times on Magna Carta Holy Grail. Younge's work with his group Venice Dawn is used on "Picasso Baby," which samples "Sirens," and on "Heaven," which samples "Reverie." 

Jimmy Norman's "Gangster of Love" was sampled on "SomewhereInAmerica." Norman's song is a cover of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's tune of the same name. A Tribe Called Quest's "Sucka Nigga" is used on "Versus," while Gonjasufi's "Nickels And Dimes" is sampled on the Jay-Z song of the same name.  

Jay-Z keeps it in the family on "Jay Z Blue." The song features a sample of "My Downfall," a cut from the late The Notorious B.I.G., a fellow Brooklyn rapper whom Jay-Z collaborated with on his debut album, 1996's Reasonable Doubt, and whom he references in several of his lyrics. 

On the business side of the Magna Carta Holy Grail campaign, there are Todd Pendelton, Samsung Chief Marketing Office, and Jay Brown, Roc Nation Co-Founder/President. "A Northeastern University grad and marketing whiz, Todd Pendleton spent about 15 years working for Nike, earning the position of Global Brand Communications Director before jumping to Samsung in 2011 to take on the position of Chief Marketing Officer," MySpace.com says. Brown is, "Current president of Roc Nation, which he helped Jay-Z launch back in 2008 after inking a massive deal with parent company Live Nation. Brown has helped build the imprint into a certified empire with branches in management, touring, publishing and, most recently, a sports agency. Brown's career kicked off as a publisher at Quincy Jones Music Publishing/Qwest Records and he's also the former SVP of A&R at Def Jam."

Another one of Jay-Z's key business partners is John Meneilly, Jay-Z's manager. "Not much is known about John Meneilly, though he's been one of Jay-Z's most trusted managers and business advisors for years now, brokering all kinds of power moves in the upper echelon of the Roc Nation world," MySpace.com says. "What we do know: Jay shouted him out in his 'A Milli' remix ('And John Meneilly-onaire is my consigliore') and that he's tweeted just three times, twice to boast that neither Watch the Throne nor MCHG would leak. Good track record so far."

Following are the Magna Carta Holy Grail credits, as per MySpace.com:

The Personnel

Todd Pendelton, Samsung Chief Marketing Office

Jay Brown, Roc Nation Co-Founder/President

John Meneilly, manager

The Features

Justin Timberlake - Contribution: Vocals, "Holy Grail,” “BBC”; Writing, “Holy Grail,” “Heaven,” "BBC,” “Jay-Z Blue”; Additional Production, “Jay-Z Blue”

Frank Ocean - Contribution: Vocals and Writing, “Oceans”

Beyonce - Contribution: Vocals, "BBC," "Part II (On the Run)”

Nas - Contribution: Vocals and Writing, "BBC"

Rick Ross - Contribution: Vocals and Writing, “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” 

Producers

Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, The-Dream,  J-Roc, Boi-1da, Hit-Boy, Vinylz, Darhyl “DJ” Camper Jr., Mike Dean, Wondagurl,  Tavi$ Scott, Mike WiLL Made It, Marz,  Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua,

Engineers

Chris Godbey, Jordan “DJ Swivel” Young, Ramon Rivas, Demacio “Demo” Castellon,

Samples

Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit

R.E.M., Losing My Religion

Adrian Younge, “Sirens”

Adrian Younge, “Reverie”

Johnny “Guitar” Watson, “Gangster of Love (Part 1)”

Sizzla, “Solid as a Rock”

A Tribe Called Quest, “Sucka Nigga”

Gonjasufi, “Nikels and Dimes”

The Notorious B.I.G., “My Downfall”

RELATED: Jay-Z Magna Carta Holy Grail [Album Review]

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