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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the CD is filled with four-letter words, and contains references to drinking and drug use, as well as some playful sexual innuendo. There are also poignant commentaries on social and topical issues (Hurricane Katrina, the Bush Administration, the pain of losing a close relative).
What's the story?
If Jay-Z hadn't "retired" (with a huge amount of fanfare) a mere two years ago, KINGDOM COME might be evaluated on its own considerable merits. But held up against "comeback" expectations, this inconsistent album doesn't quite satisfy. There are some wonderful moments, though many are provided by guest cameos -- the likes of Chrisette Michele, John Legend, Usher, Pharrell, Beyonce, Sterling Simms, Ne-Yo, and Chris Martin.
Is it any good?
More philosophical than previous albums, Jay-Z pontificates about his maturing perspective and elder-statesman status on songs like "30-Something" ("Young enough to know the right car to buy/yet grown enough not to put rims on it…I don't buy out the bar, I bought the nightspot/I got the right stock…"). His lyrics celebrate the joys of the party life ("Gimmie some ass, gimmie some brain, gimme your number, gimme your name…I'll take the cork off, you can take sips/I'll take you there, take my time/take your clothes off, I'll take off mine" on "Show Me What You Got"), but also explore the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina and mourn the loss of a beloved nephew on "Lost One." Despite some brilliant moments, the end result is too inconsistent and unfocused to be hailed as a smashing success -- especially for a project touted as the "comeback" of a superstar.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why an artist like Jay-Z would announce his retirement with a great deal of fanfare, then return with a new album a mere two years later -- especially when he has a successful career heading a record label. Families can also talk about Jay-Z's social message. Do you think his opinions on Hurricane Katrina and the President hold more or less weight when he relays them with explicit language?