By Brenna Ehrlich
Jay-Z may have gone super modern for the release of his upcoming album, Magna Carta Holy Grail — aiming to release one million copies via the #magnacarta Samsung app on July 4 before the album’s July 8 release — but for the album’s official artwork, he’s going old school. Super old school. Wednesday, he revealed the black and white album cover at the Salisbury Cathedral in England, next to one of the four remaining copies of the actual Magna Carta. We guess an appearance next to the Holy Grail would be a little too much to ask for.
There have been a lot of rumblings these past few weeks about Hov’s new album and its contents — including some purported artwork — as lyrics to all of the album’s songs have slowly rolled out via the official app. The reveal of the artwork marks the final piece of the puzzle leading up the official pre-release on Samsung devices, set to go down at 12:01 am EST on Thursday, July 4.
The cover is a simple affair, featuring two statues — a man and woman — and Jay-Z’s name, cut through with a black bar. According to the church’s website, the inspiration of the artwork comes from the Magna Carta itself. “Just as 1215 Magna Carta is a classic document, the classic image on the album cover represents the belief ‘when opposing thoughts are combined, beauty is created,’ the site says. “When a man and a woman unite – on the most basic level – they create life.”
The artwork was designed by Jay-Z, along with his creative director Willo Perron and photographer Ari Marcopoulos.
Hov was also apparently inspired by the Magna Carta itself — the charter that imposed restraints on royal authority — and its celebrated words, “To no one will We Sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice,” when it came to composing his album, a work that also takes influence from more modern sources, like Nirvana and R.E.M.
There are only four copies of the Magna Carta left in existence — the other three reside at the British Library and Lincoln Cathedral. Jay-Z’s album will be on display at the Cathedral until the end of July.
“We are delighted that Jay Z has chosen Salisbury Cathedral, home to the finest of the four surviving original 1215 Magna Carta, as the location for the global premiere of his artwork for Magna Carta Holy Grail,” The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, said. “We know how important Magna Carta, and all it represents, is to people across the globe. The ideals it embodies are still relevant today. Jay Z, through his album, is creating a huge awareness of this historic document and its modern significance to a huge audience in the run up to its 800th anniversary in 2015. We hope to welcome many of his fans here this summer to see the artwork in the Chapter House alongside our Magna Carta.”
Magna Carta Holy Grail will be available for pre-order on July 4, and on sale at stores, Amazon, iTunes and other retailers on July 9.