Friday, March 28, 2014

Hip Hop Alert: The Good And The Bad About Jay Z

“I can’t stand Jay.” says the hater.
“Man, Jay Z is killing it right now!” says the fan.

I’ve come to realize that I’m probably both of these people.

I’m torn between those two phrases. On one hand there’s a big part of me that openly hates Jigga. I don’t hate him as a person. That would be above and beyond considering I’ve never even met the man. But I have a strong amount of dislike for some of the things he’s done as a hip hop artist. It’s infuriating. 

Then on other days I’m down with Jigga. He’s the man! I can’t control my Stan-ism as it pertains to giving him props on certain moves he’s made. If he isn’t a genius he’s about as close to one that I’ve seen. You have to marvel at the positive things he’s bringing to so many lives.

So I’ve decided to make an article that seeks to take inventory of these issues and emotions and put them into some level of perspective.
photo credit: MjaMes1408 via photopin cc

I Don’t Like Jay Z Because Of…..

1.       His Lyrics:  Money has clearly made Jay Z a little lazy. With the exception of the recording he recently released with Jay Electronica, Jigga has been inconsistent at best. Most of his rhymes sound like a TV commercial for a mall located in Italy. How many times can you brag about a watch? He’s so far removed from America that even Obama is having a hard time seeing him. And when he notices he’s gone too far, here comes the “crack” references. He throws in a boast here or there about a life that’s long gone as if that seems to be the only thing that we mortals can relate to. Thank God Jay Electronica got in the booth with him and forced him to pick his game up. I don’t think I could tolerate another Magna Carter album. 

2.       Dame Dash: Business is business and at the end of the day the ability to acquire more money is dictated by recognizing certain problems and finding solutions to those problems. I get that. I won’t go into detail about Jigga’s and Dame’s business dealings because I wasn’t there.  But in the arena of public opinion Dame Dash was royally played by Jay Z. Not only did Jigga sever all ties with him, but he tried to behave as though they never made history together. Friendship is friendship and business is business. No complaints there. But when you see your man down and going through all types of adversity because of severed ties, you’re not going to look out for your man in some kind of way? In your immense financial empire you couldn’t find a way to squeeze him in. Yes, Jay Z. I remember your lyrics in “Feelin’ it” on your first album Reasonable Doubt when you said,

“If every n***a in your click is rich your click is rugged. Nobody will fall because everyone will be each other’s crutches.”

So what’s up with that Jay Z? Were you “keeping it real” and spitting truth, or did you mean only people in your business click? In my opinion you played dude. I can’t say who’s to blame for what but I know if my people that helped me build my empire fell on bad times, nonsense would instantly be put aside to get a resolution to his problems. That’s family.  You probably wouldn’t be enjoying the same level of success without Dame. You definitely wouldn’t have Kanye in your squad. And that counts for a lot.

3.       Beyonce: How did this dude pull that off? The fattest chick in the game. We know the rules of life and women. If you got decent looks a little game you can get a lot of girls. But come on Jigga. Beyonce? Tell us how you pulled that one off. When you called yourself “The Black Brad Pitt” in that song Caution with Panjabi MC I instantly blew Pepsi out of my nose in laughter. For real? Are you serious? A lot of dudes on the street say it’s because of your deep pockets. I don’t know… Was it? Come on Jigga. Disprove that theory.

I Like Jay Z Because Of….

1.       His Business Moves: Jay Z is straight up and down killing the corporate world with his business moves. Not only does he have more number one albums on the hip hop chart than any other hip hop artist, he finds ways to innovate. His deal with Samsung displayed a new way for artist to market their releases. And trust me, in a time when the music industry is suffering, that was big. But he didn’t stop there. Jigga also helped Mrs. Beyonce Carter develop a new marketing strategy or her album and it was a complete success. And to add to his arsenal Jay Z has gotten into the sports management arena. Not only did he sign the third largest contract in MLB history with Robinson Cano ($240 Million), he has Scott Boras basically bouncing off the walls in fear. Where did the “rapper” come from? How was he able to pull it off? That thought had me smiling for a week. Impressive moves from Jigga Man.

2.       His Age: I’ve traveled to many countries and The United States is the only country that treats its artists as disposable entertainers. We put zero value on longevity and seek to market and burnout the value of those artists by marketing them to the youth (which is a dumb marketing strategy because young people eventually become old people, so you’re only getting half value). And that is why Jay Z stands out. It’s weird to see one of our hip hop artist age while performing at such a high level of popularity. This is new to the hip hop world. Jay Z is close to joining the AARP club yet he’s still pulling down number one albums? Hip Hop as a whole should be absolutely rooting for this because of one reason… When old people start performing past their expected corporate expiration dates it means that the art form has truly grown and become validated. Young people are always on to the next big thing. But Old People are the most discriminating consumers. And no matter what The Grammy Awards say about hip hop not being a true art, Jigga’s ability to stay relevant while entering the age of 50 basically tells them to “Shut up and listen”.

3.       What He Has Given To Hip Hop: Say what you want about this dude but he’s given pretty much the majority of his life to bringing happiness and joy to fans all over the world. His work ethic is ridiculous. For every year since 1995 he has been producing and sweating for his craft. He’s given that blueprint for success to such artists as Kanye and Rhianna and helped their careers excel. No one can truly accuse him of being selfish because he gave blood and sweat. Can you truly imagine a hip hop world without his contributions? I can’t. How many young Black kids has he inspired with his moves? He’s giving hope to a lot of children that grew up fatherless and in the projects. Being that beacon of hope is a huge responsibility that most people can’t handle. Yet Jay Z does it effortlessly. Like it or not, we need a lot more people like him to better our communities.

The point I’m trying to make is this. l like Jay Z because I hate him. And I hate Jay Z because I’m a fan.  Hate him or like him, he’s here making his mark.