Beyonce & Jay Z Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Image

When: Thu., July 24, 8 p.m. 2014

Beyonce's self-titled fifth album, released by surprise on December 13, turned the music biz on its head, stole a lot of the year-end critical thunder from 2013's other big-name releases (including her husband's), and gave an unexpected jolt to a pop-music world that generally goes into hibernation after Thanksgiving. Both a bold and deeply rewarding artistic statement and the work of one of pop's most reliable names at what seems like the peak of her powers, it managed to sell a million copies in under a week at a time when even major releases have trouble breaking seven digits. —Miles Raymer, 2014

Jay Z has covered a lot of territory in a recording career nearly 20 years long—beginning in grimy east-coast boom-bap and leading to the luxurious futuristic beats of his latest, Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail (Roc-a-Fella/Roc Nation)—but his catalog is tied together by his bottomless ambition and inimitable, often breathtaking flow . . . At age 44, Jay Z is starting to lose some of the addictive on-mike electricity that’s made him an icon, and his performances on Magna Carta can’t quite match his aspirations—but he remains an unparalleled live performer, and he’s backed up by what’s inarguably the strongest body of work in rap history. —Miles Raymer, 2014

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