Jay-Z makes lyrically solid comeback album

After barely two years of retirement, the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” resurfaced as a solo artist with his long-awaited 10th album, Kingdom Come.

Though he claimed to be retired from the rap game, the New York native and rap mogul Jay-Z has still graced the tracks of artists like Young Jeezy, Kanye West and Rick Ross. With an all-star gang of producers including Dr. Dre, The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Kanye West and Swizz Beatz, this album is nothing less than a testament to Jay-Z’s lyrical skills.

In the title track, Jay is not in the least bit cautious as he spits lyrical proof of taking the game back.

As the sampled beat from Rick James’ “Super freak” blares, Jay says, “Now I don’t know what life may be in h-i-p-h-o-p without the boy HOV/ Not only NYC I’m hip hop’s savior/So after this flow you might owe me a favor.”

And as if the trend setter of ‘Grown ‘n’ Sexy’ couldn’t carry it any further, Jay-Z sets another trend at the end of the Dr. Dre produced track, “30 Something.”

At nearly 38 years old, he still has his swag and lets the world know that when you have money there is no need to be flashy. In reference to his international 40/40 Club located in New York City and Tokyo, Japan, Jay says, “I don’t got the bright watch/I got the right watch/I don’t buy out the bar/ I bought the night spot.”

And with all this talk of fame and fortune, Jay had to have a track with his girl, Beyoncé, as she gives a sultry sound to the track “Hollywood.”

He repeatedly articulates that everyone can’t handle the life of a star. In the first verse he says, “People often warn me that the fame ain’t for the faint at heart/ It will change those that said they had love for you/Into strangers.”

But the love he has for his family is no stranger to anyone who has picked up one of Jay’s records lately.

On a softer note, he dedicates “I Made It” to his mother and inspiration, Gloria Carter, by telling her “I told you one day I’ll get you a home/But I didn’t know it would possibly be in Rome.”

With a little help from producer/rapper Kanye West and R&B vocalist John Legend, Jay dedicates “Do U Wanna Ride” to his cousin, Emory Jones, who is in prison. Jay says he isn’t good at writing letters, but he wrote Jones a song saying, “Now I can’t wait ’till you get your date/ I got some temp plates outside the gate/ we gon’ ride.”

Jay also shouts out his nephew Collek Carter, who died in a car accident in 2005. In one verse of his latest single “Lost Ones” he says, “My nephew died in the car I bought/ So under the belief it’s partly my fault.”

And his dedication songs are hardly short lived as he sends a message to all the rappers who have not been on the HOV bandwagon. In Jay’s most controversial song “Dig a Hole,” he schools his opponents saying “I keep my enemies close and give em enough rope/ They put themselves in the air/ I just kick away the chair.”

And to close out the album, Jay ends on a spiritual note with “Beach Chair,” produced by Chris Martin and Rick Simpson.

We all know Jay as a lyrical genius, but with this “comeback” album he didn’t come as hard as expected, with only 14 tracks and songs like “Anything,” featuring Usher and Pharrell.

The album is great but not as strong as expected. “Kingdon Come” goes from highs to lows, with blows at current rappers to love for his family, money and fame.

But hate him or love him, he is back!

Grade: B+