jay-z’s current problems

2 12 2008

Jay-Z’s current problems, originally uploaded by .damien.

hey gang, it’s rant time!

so, on the heels of the evening when a new jay-z song leaked out to the intarw3bz and me sitting at home watching my peers react to this, i’ve come to some solid realizations.

let’s cut back to 1996 when I first heard dead presidents and ain’t no n&gga. i wasn’t able to put 2 and 2 together and see that this was the same fast-rapping dude from big daddy kane’s ‘show and prove’ joint, so i treated jay-z like a brand new artist.

this meant he was subjected to my rigorous and sometimes unfair screening process. i used to let tiny details, and sometimes just matters of principle blind me when first listening to albums or singles.

so, all current bias and understanding aside..here is what i thought of those 2 songs and in turn, jay-z when he first put out records of his own that got any kind of play in canada.

dead presidents-i couldn’t get past the hook. the tip mix of the world is yours was one of the closest songs to my heart ever since i heard it and hearing that little bit of the music from it and the sloppy chop at the end of the loop just ruined it for me. all i could think of was the nas joint and I was mad that they didn’t use it differently.

ain’t no n!gga-i heard the sample and immediately thought of the epmd joint. this was when bad boy and rap/r&b crossovers were murdering already used breaks and samples and making them super-corny so I wasn’t even able to get past the beat on this song.

in fact, i wasn’t even checking for reasonable doubt until years later and the song that swayed me was d’evils. i had it on a mixtape(mastermind, i think) and his description of the whole situation between him and his friend and the wife, etc…fucking cinema in rap form.

from that moment on, I gave jay way more props. i have to credit my man jomo for pushing me to do so though, he was constantly making me listen to any new shit jay put out so in the end i was sold.

it’s the man’s ability to vividly depict a scene or situation and the range of emotions that the people in that scene might feel that makes him one of the best to ever record his voice to a beat in rap form. his nonchalant and yet somehow, still remorseful approach to the life that he left to persue music..it set the bar for the hustler’s anthem.

mind you, i didn’t love everything the man recorded. few artists will ever get that kind of blind respect from me, but he definitely shut me up with a joint like ‘streets is watching’ or ‘where i’m from’ everytime i tried to shit on his more commercial joints.

this brings me to the point when jay-z “retired”. the black album was by no means at the level of reasonable doubt…but it contained everything that jay was about and it brought a sense of completion to his whole career and theoretical stepping away from the game.

i was not fully satisfied with it until a few years later when he came back like jordan wearing the 4-5. only then, did i realize that the black album deserved its place with his other classic albums despite having some flaws(worst dj quik beat ever??).

it’s probably worthwhile to mention that my favourite jay-z songs are as follows:
regrets, d’evils, you must love me, both friend or foe and the ’98 version, a week ago, stick 2 the script, never change, song cry, people talking, meet the parents, lucifer, allure, and dear summer

basically, if dear summer and ignorant shit were the last i heard of jay-z “the rapper”, i would have been good with it. kingdom come did nothing for me, american gangster was interesting but not unlike the movie in terms of not really having a lot of staying power and being full of holes.

so, here we are nearing the blueprint 3 and i haven’t been impressed with anything yet. and by impressed, i’m using the yardstick of the above listed songs to form my scale to judge the new material against.

which is why seeing all my peoples changing their blackberry messenger names or facebook statuses to the title of the new song or blogging about it after a credible blog has already done the initial leak, i get the urge to write a retardedly long post like this.

are we all so starved for something that feels real and reminds us why we love this music and the “game” that it created that we will settle for something that years ago we might have dismissed as unlistenable filler tracks? or, am i just super bitter and living in the past and mad that an amazing talent has chosen to “dumb down for his audience to double his dollars” instead of putting something out that no one else could ever do.

at this point, i’m not even sure. after a couple more listens, jay’s structure in the 2nd verse of that song is pretty damn impressive and it might grow on me. or who knows, maybe i’m just a self-fulfilling prophecy with what i write and i really want some good rap music to listen to.

redman, you’re all i’ve got left dude.




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