Collaborative albums are not really my forte, and this album by The Carters is a perfect example why. I think Beyonce is one of the most interesting and energizing pop stars imaginable, but I find Jay-Z mostly dull and tiresome, and I suspected, that was my opinion of their respective inputs here. Beyonce as usual is on fire: She sounds great, she’s clearly relishing this opportunity to step outside her comfort zone, but it all sounds unmistakably like Beyonce. Jay-Z, for his part, mostly raps half-heartedly about both the triumphs and trappings of fame and wealth, not bringing much insight or candor to any of it. Ultimately there are some strong songs here and there like “Summer” and “Friends,” but the only real stand-out here is lead single “Apeshit,” and it’s probably not an accident that it mostly functions as a Beyonce song featuring Jay-Z. It doesn’t sound like there’s a concept or purpose to this album other than as a PDA between two superstars.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)