They pray and pray on my downfall but every time I hit the ground, I bounce up like round ball.
The quote above is taken from the Jay-Z song Heart of The City, produced by Kanye West in 2000. The Blueprint era was the ‘come up’. Fair enough Jay-Z had already hit platinum three times but he didn’t have that respect amongst not only his peerage but corporate America. The Blueprint was the moment where Hov escaped a barrel of crabs, making the transformation from slaying (the critically acclaimed Rap King of the era) Nas [openly], to becoming Hova the Rap God. For me Heart of The City is Jay’s answer to those who continue to doubt his rise, whether street corner hustler, record exec, rapper, etc. It’s a vent in regards to being dislodged from not only his humble beginnings traveling adrift from those who he came up with. It’s almost as if he’s asking ‘why aren’t you happy for my success?’ with elaborate rhetoric such as…
Respect the game, that should be it. What you eat don’t make me shit. Where’s the love?
Whether in rap or life in general, I guess once you make the transformation from an environment of ignorance to elaboration, you’ve got to start being diplomatic with all statements made to avoid getting caught in a net. It’s no longer rap or telling stories about the old life because you’re now doing battle with a far more advanced set of chess players who calculate even further ahead; corporate and political America [now the globe and beyond]. You’ve become enlightened so why do yourself a disservice with small minded social commentary from an inner city [exploiting and robbing your community of a future by peddling drugs to your neighbours] perspective? Understanderbly you’ve tried a bunch of times, most notably on Kingdom Come but it fell on deaf ears. Tracks such as Do You Wanna Ride where you tried to highlight the social suppression experiment which was the housing project or Minority Report where you vented about your disdain for how the Bush administration handled Hurricane Katrina and your regret at dumping a million dollars into an aid account not knowing what they’d do with it.
Throughout the latter part of Hov’s career people have often mistaken his transitional era for falling off rather than making the ascension to greatness. The often a misconception among folk to say ‘He don’t make em like that anymore’ but the lines are always there, you’ve just got to dig a much deeper. A lot of folk fail to see that with growth, the entendres become much more intricate as they’re enshrouded in a cloak of simplicity. It’s no longer playing the role of the stereotypical street corner hustler but becoming a tangible aspiration. In the years since Reasonable Doubt’s 1996 release, Jay-Z and Hip Hop has gone 360. It’s gone back to being an art form as artists go back to doing the ‘knowledge of self’ and realising that they have a responsibility unto others to educate as opposed to enslave. Rappers have become demi-gods, some have realised that with great power comes great responsibility whilst others continue to scoff at this fact.
In Max Weber‘s Tripartite Classification of Authority, ‘charismatic authority’ of old i.e biblical prophets had an impact on the people of today and of old because people believed in them, the same could be said for Rap. In the ten years since Blueprint’s release, Jay-Z has become a cultural, political and business force of influence to be reckoned with; He played an integral part in bringing the Net’s NBA franchise to old home borough of Brooklyn, New York, he became the first Rap artists and Hip Hop representative to headline Glastonbury, he became the first Rapper to become the head honcho of Def Jam -a record label whom he had a joint venture label with, he got married and had a child with the Queen of pop culture -Beyoncé Knowles, who is arguably the most beautiful and admired woman across all cultures [how times and the minds have changed in little over a few decades].
Men do not obey him [the charismatic ruler] by virtue of tradition or statute, but because they believe in him.
Hov is the living embodiment of oxymoronic lyricism, way too clever when it comes to creative calculation, far beyond the means of his contemporaries.
Tracks to check in preparation: Open Letter, BIC (Blue Ivy Carter) and B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe (Rmx). The latter being a subtle way to let the new generation of rappers know that he’s the one d.o.a (dead or alive) on a totally different level with lyrical lifestyle wizardry. The trck dedicated to his daughter is not to be slept on either as this shows us a vulnerable side of someone who’s always been so guarded. It’s candid adventure into what we could expect from someone embarking on a quest to break the pattern of the absentee father childhood. For all those disregarding lyrical wizardry, or the art of creating an event, which other rapper could make a song and be mentioned by a presidential aide at a White House press conference less than twenty four hours laters not to mention sell a million copies of a new album at $5 a pop prior to a release date?
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- Nas Says He May or May Not Appear On Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ (waitwaitwhut.com)
- Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ Reveals His Fears about Fatherhood (atlantablackstar.com)
- Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ Tracklist (deadendhiphop.com)
- Watch: Jay-Z Gets Emotional Discussing Lyrics About Blue Ivy On ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ (pinkisthenewblog.com)
- Jay-Z Reveals Beyonce Feature On Magna Carta Holy Grail’s ‘Part II (On The Run)’ (rapfix.mtv.com)