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Jay Z bringing his 'Picasso Baby' to HBO -- VIDEO

Earlier this month, Jay Z showed up at a Manhattan art gallery and lip-synched his Magna Carta Holy Grail track “Picasso Baby” for hours as gallery-goers streamed in and out to be part of the surprise art installation.

Now everyone can partake in Jay’s experiment when Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film hits HBO. A sneak peek from the mega-music video includes Alan Cumming and Judd Apatow interacting with the rap royalty, along with throngs of fans invited to get up close and personal. Check out the preview below:

Jay-Z wins at everything: His new album tops album charts, breaks Spotify records

Jay-Z’s got a lot of reasons to smile this week.

First off, he’s married to Beyoncé. Still! But more immediately, the man’s latest effort, Magna Carta Holy Grail, is killing it commercially: Soundscan reports that the album moved a blockbuster 527,000 copies in its first week, giving Jay the 13th No. 1 album of his career.

That number exceeds the high-profile bows of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (339,000 its first week out), and Kanye West’s Yeezus (327,000). It’s still, however, lower than the year’s biggest debut, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, which notched 968,000.


Jay-Z shot a video at a Manhattan art gallery today, and everyone wanted to be involved

What does Pace Gallery, Lena Dunham’s mom, and Twitter all have in common?

They were all obsessed with Jay-Z this afternoon, after the rapper surprise showed up to Pace Gallery in Manhattan, where Vines of Jay-Z dancing amongst museum-goers –presumable to be turned into some kind of music video —  quickly dominated social feeds. Take that, Tilda Swinton!

Admittance to watch Jay-Z lip-sync/performance art his new track off Magna Carta Holy Grail, “Picasso Baby,” required a golden ticket of sorts, an invite-only white piece of paper that was emailed to lucky members of the art, media and – according to at least one person EW spoke with outside – even the 40/40 club membership list yesterday. The paper, after check-in in another building, allowed a lucky few into the gallery to pretend to party with Jay-Z.

Outside the gallery, which, around 4:00 local time this afternoon was populated with over 100 fans attempting in vain to get inside the guarded big white doors, EW caught up with a few of the dancers/performers who’d been hired as background, and even they didn’t find out that it was a Jay-Z video until earlier that day. “It was all hidden,” explained Nicole Page, one in a group of six performers that were waiting in the 90-degree weather for their call time. “We were told it was for a Mark Romanek [who directed Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”] video. We don’t know anything except what the time frame is. …We’ve been here since this morning.”

For Manhattanites who instantly booked it downtown upon hearing of the Jay-Z sightings, the mixed reviews of Magna Carta (Read EW’s review) had no place in this line, full of people who were eager to profess that the rapper’s 12th studio album was among his best yet. “F—ing awesome!” one line member yelled to EW. Aaron Cho, a twenty-something fan who was hopeful to get a glimpse of his idol, also couldn’t help but gush: “[I] love it, especially “Picasso Baby.” I work in the art industry and I love that Jay-Z is talking about art. It’s really related to the music world as well. ‘I want to be a billionaire’ It sounds greedy but it’s awesome at the same time.”

For fan Sal Emelin, who has been to five Jay-Z concerts, even the importance of a grad school final couldn’t slow down his attempt to rush to the gallery. “[Magna Carta Holy Grail is] one of his best albums. I expected it to be a so-so album, due to him not really promoting [it],” he explained. “…It’ll take time for people to really listen to it and let it settle in their minds. History will show it to be one of Jay-Z’s top albums.”

Alas, even great spin like that doesn’t immediately get you inside.

Jay-Z's 'Magna Carta Holy Grail': What do you think?

As noted, Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail has been unleashed on Samsung users, and already went platinum before anybody heard a single note.

Of course, because we live in the future, the album was fully available to non-Samsung users moments after the clock struck midnight. There will be a full, in-depth review of Magna Carta Holy Grail on the Music Mix and in next week’s issue of the magazine, but upon first listen, the thing that really jumps out is how impeccable the production sounds. Timbaland, Pharrell, and Swizz Beatz have all brought their individual A games, and it helps prop up some lyrical moments that occasionally feel phoned in (a judgment levied against Jigga over his last few releases).

But what do you think of Magna Carta Holy Grail? How does it stack up against other Jay-Z albums, and how does it compare with other hip-hop albums in 2013? Sound off about your evolving opinions on Magna Carta below.

Jay-Z album available to Samsung users today

Album release dates are quickly going the way of 8-tracks and B-sides, something music buyers will remember being important once upon a time. While Jay-Z’s forthcoming album Magna Carta Holy Grail isn’t set to hit stores worldwide until July 9, Samsung Galaxy smartphone customers who downloaded a specially tailored app were permitted to purchase it as of 12:01 a.m. ET today.

Jay-Z effectively leaked his own album and got paid to do so by the electronics giant, who agreed to pre-purchase the one million copies that were distributed free to the first million people to download the app. This savvy marketing maneuver essentially meant that Magna Carta Holy Grail went platinum days before its official release.

Jay-Z inspires RIAA to change certification stance

Even though we have yet to hear note one from Jay-Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail, it’s already become one of the most controversial albums of 2013 — at least from a business standpoint.

Starting this Thursday, July 4, owners of Samsung phones will get first crack at Magna Carta Holy Grail. The first one million Samsung users will be claiming their free copies of the album, which led to an interesting question: Does that mean that Magna Carta Holy Grail is already platinum, even though it’s not even on sale yet?

The definitive answer is: yes and no. Yesterday, the RIAA announced that it will start counting digital sales towards Gold and Platinum certification right away, rather than wait the traditional 30 days after an album’s release. The old rule was in place to account for returns on unsold merchandise (Gold and Platinum certifications are based on copies shipped to stores, not copies sold). But because you can’t return an iTunes download, the organization has decided to amend its policy—just in time to certify Magna Carta Holy Grail.

“Not only do we believe it’s sensible and logical to align digital album rules with those we have maintained for digital singles since the program’s inception, we also consider today’s move in line with our larger efforts to modernize the G&P Program to reflect the new music marketplace,” the RIAA’s Liz Kennedy said in a press release. “The reality is that how fans consume music is changing, the music business is changing as labels and artists partner with a breathtaking array of new technology services, and the industry’s premier award recognizing artists’ commercial achievement should similarly keep pace.”

Since Samsung already pre-purchased one million digital downloads of Magna Carta Holy Grail, it will be eligible for platinum certification immediately. However, the chart-keepers at Billboard will still not be recognizing those sales of the album on its weekly charts. READ FULL STORY

Jay-Z reveals 'Magna Carta Holy Grail' track list via Brooklyn scavenger hunt


Remember the days when an artist recorded an album, and then released that album in a store so that people could buy and hear that album?

Those days are long gone. In 2013, Jay-Z is rewriting the book on releases, dropping his new Magna Carta Holy Grail with only a few weeks notice and putting it out through a deal with Samsung that will allow Samsung phone owners to download an app and hear it all for free a full three days before it actually goes on sale.

And rather than simply announce, “Here are the various song titles, guests, and collaborators who may be appearing on my new, ridiculously-named album,” Jigga decided to send his fans on a scavenger hunt through Brooklyn on Saturday in order to unlock his 12th solo album’s tracklist.

The clues led to a series of binders that revealed all of the songs on Magna Carta Holy Grail, though none of the guests or production notes were included. The fan who found the binder was kind enough to record a quick video of the binder, which you can watch below:


Jay-Z announces new album ... in a cell phone ad -- VIDEO

Jay-Z has taken branding to a whole new level, announcing his new album in a cell phone commercial.

Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay’s first album since teaming up with Kanye West for Watch the Throne, arrives July 4, according to a three-minute Samsung spot that aired during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. As a tie-in to the album’s release, the first million Samsung Galaxy users to download a special mobile app will unlock the disc 72 hours early.

Check out the ad — featuring basically every relevant hip-hop producer there is (Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Rick Rubin and Swizz Beatz) in the studio with Jay — below:

NPR is streaming the 'Gatsby' soundtrack: What's worth talking about


Stop whatever you are doing and listen to The Great Gatsby soundtrack, which is streaming in full over at NPR days before its May 7 release. The album arrives pre-buzzed, thanks to behind-the-scenes work from Jay-Z and a series of tracks from a series of high-wattage artists such as Florence + The Machine, Beyoncé, Fergie, and Jack White.

What results is very good (Lana) and very bad (Florence) and very, very interesting, as is the nature of projects that overflow with talented people all working at once. Also: very period. If you didn’t know the movie is set almost 100 years ago, the soundtrack shouts it out at you, all honking brass and a preference for tempos that slide up the scale like liquor, getting hot just as they hit the chorus. It’s Baz Luhrmann’s costume party-version of the ’20s. But it’s fun! Also sad! (People have a way of dying in Gatsby.) Talking points from the 14-track soundtrack:


Jay-Z writes open letter exiting Brooklyn Nets organization

Remember when Jay-Z was just a guy who rapped about money and women, and his only business ventures were the stillborn careers of Amil and Freeway? Now he’s a major mogul letting the world know how he plans on making his next few millions.

In an open letter posted on his website, the man born Shawn Carter announced that he is officially selling off his tiny ownership stake in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets in order to fully (and legally) ensconce himself as a sports agent overseeing the newly-minted Roc Nation Sports. NBA rules prohibit team owners from carrying agent licenses, which is why Jigga had to cash out on his stake (which amounted to roughly one fiftieth of one percent). READ FULL STORY

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