Jay-Z Lets Justin Timberlake Take the Lead on ‘Holy Grail’: Listen
The first 80 seconds of the song is all the “Suit & Tie” star’s voice and just a piano before the rapper comes in to rhyme about being cheated on, the paparazzi keeping him from taking a walk down the street with his daughter, Mike Tyson, MC Hammer … and late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
“Nobody to blame / Kurt Cobain / I did it to myself,” raps Jay-Z, just before JT and Jay go into a line borrowed from the grunge god’s iconic 1991 song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: “And we all just / Entertainers / And we’re stupid / And contagious.”
As for the lyrics of “Holy Grail,” Jay-Z explains them as “the trappings of fame … We’re trying to achieve something they can’t grasp. It’s dealing with all these tragedies I saw growing up. Success … but look what it did to Hammer … all these moments that I saw and I was like, ‘Whoa! How can that be?’”
Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, gave the rapper her blessing to use the lyrics, even if it didn’t sit well with her daughter, she told Huffington Post last month.
“Frances would freak [if she knew this.] Jay-Z’s huge and we’re friends. I mean we’re not besties or anything … They [used it] without asking, which is kind of nervy but the business side has been taken care of so it’s fine.”
Magna Carta Holy Grail, which also features Beyonce and Frank Ocean, was released to Samsung users at midnight on July 4, and will be available for everyone else three days later.