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Jay-Z Streams 'Holy Grail' Featuring Justin Timberlake

'Magna Carta Holy Grail' track uses a reworked Nirvana refrain

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z on stage during the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 10th, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Lester Cohen/WireImage
July 7, 2013 6:58 PM ET

In the weeks following the announcement of his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay-Z teased out anticipation for individual tracks by releasing their lyrics through the album's Samsun Galaxy app. The sheet for "Holy Grail" drew particular notice for its take on Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with the refrain "And we all just/ Entertainers/ And we're stupid/ And contagious."

Just after the album was released for free to a million Galaxy users on July 4th but before its release to the general public, Jay-Z's Life + Times site began streaming "Holy Grail." The song features Justin Timberlake singing alone until Jay-Z cuts in about a minute and a half in, and the Nirvana chorus includes a take on the source's melody as well.   

Summer Tour Preview 2013: Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake

Courtney Love dished on the use of those lyrics last month in an interview with the Huffington Post"I'm letting Jay-Z use lyrics - Francis would freak [if she knew this.] Jay-Z's huge and we're friends. I mean we're not besties or anything...." she said, and later added, "They [used it] without asking, which is kind of nervy but the business side has been taken care of so it's fine."

Jay-Z: "Holy Grail" Featuring Justin Timberlake

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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