Mid-summer, top down, speakers blaring, riding down the M50 in an Opel Corsa is where you want to pop ‘Magna Carta…Holy Grail’ into the 3-track CD player. This record will make you feel so much a part of the cast of a gritty American urban drama you’ll want to leave your day job. Such is the extent to which Jay-Z has pimped out the beats on his 12th studio album – it’s big, black and beautiful.

Not long ago we compared ‘Yeezus’ to ‘good kid, m.A.A.d. city‘ and ‘LONG.LIVE.A$AP‘ in the absence of another big hip-hop record. Well, we have one here and they really aren’t comparable after all. Yeezus is art; this is pop and Jay Z is bigger than Yeezus.

And lining it up with the mostly Kanye produced ‘Blueprint 3‘, the new record is much more of one mind. The production duties were split between Kanye on Blueprint 3 and those beats by Timbaland ‘are all up in dis’ album.

For that reason it’s a lot more straightforward and focused on the big beats. While Blueprint 3 was way more Kanye leaning – his influence heavy on Empire State of Mind – this album is a big, hard-hitting proper hip-hop record.

It’s super good at it too. We’ve heard Timbaland’s influence on Justin Timerlake’s ’20/20′, on David Guetta in 2011, but not much more mainstream in the last few years so it’s a blast from the past to hear his trademark ‘hey’ on F*uckwithmeyouknowigotit.

No foolin’, you get yourself some nice speakers, or a good car stereo, this album is the absolute business. You just can’t argue with those beats and no-one does it better than Jay Z and his entourage.

If you’re looking for tracks to dip in to, check out Picasso Baby, F*uckwithmeyouknowigotit, and Tom Ford – you’ll be hearing more of those in the coming months. Looking for something more interesting, try Somewhereinameria or Jay-Z Blue (featuring, naturally, the late Notorious BIG.)

If all the Brooklyn bravado is too much for you, you can’t go wrong with our own Messiah J & The Expert.