When Drake released “Pop Style”, which featured The Throne, I was wondering why Jay Z’s “verse” was so short. I simply figured he was busy with one of his other multi-million dollar ventures, and had no time to spit sixteen bars. But after watching Beyoncé’s Lemonade on HBO, I am left wondering if his lack of presence in the rap game is the result of something much greater.
image via Giphy
Beyoncé made the “Song Cry” last night, literally.
As I watched Beyoncé’s Lemonade, I was thinking of all the songs of Jay’s that will never sound the same to me. There is literally no way I can listen to “Big Pimpin’” right now. Lyrics like “Parts with nothin’ , y’all be frontin’/ Me give my heart to a woman?/ Not for nothin’, never happen/ I’ll be forever mackin’,” leave me with the visual of Jay Z looking me dead in the eye during his appearance in Lemonade and saying,” That’s only music. I am married now, you don’t get to know who Beyoncé is talking about, just know me and my wife are good.” Verses like the one that Jay left on Memphis Bleek’s “Is That Your Chick,” leave me thinking that “Mr. Carter” shouldn’t even be involved with that question being asked in the first place. Right now, I only want to hear “Lift Off” and lines about how much his Basquiat’s cost, because it better fits where Jay Z is now, and ultimately, I am okay with that.
image via Power.106
Although Drake is the hottest rapper in today’s hip-hop era, (I don’t consider Kendrick as “hot” as Drake but is definitely just as good, if not better), Jay Z is widely considered as one of the Greatest Rappers of All Time. What makes them both dope artists is that they rap about where they are in the present stages of their lives. Drake’s stories make me think about the past, while listening to Jay gives me plans for the future. As hip-hop fans know, being the best lyricist does not guarantee commercial success. Staying at the top of their respective lanes has been an element that has kept Jay Z and Drake relevant in today’s music scene. The same way I don’t want to hear Drake continue to sing about “Bria” and “Kourtney from Hooters on P Street,” I don’t want to listen to how 2016 Jay Z is pulling up in a “4.6” without anyone other than Beyoncé.
I felt the same way about Jay as I did about T.I. after watching T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle for the first time. Once I saw T.I.’s in his role as husband and father, I could only see Clifford Harris, the family man, who happens to rap about illegal things under his rap moniker, T.I. The transition from being a drug dealer to becoming an adult with more responsibilities is becoming common, with more rappers starting to have careers that thrive past their 20’s. But now, we are seeing Jay Z, one of the best ever, in his 40’s, twenty years removed from his classic debut, Reasonable Doubt. On Saturday, Beyoncé showed us the next level of what comes with being the wife of a rap legend who based his lyrics off being a young Brooklyn hustler with a fast lifestyle. Jay Z showed us the what it is like to be married to one of the most influential women alive and superstar Queen like Beyoncé, in a way that perfectly combines art, fact, and fiction. Serena Williams showed us something men have wanted to see for years. This is new to us all.
image via HBO
I’ll probably listen to “Big Pimpin’” in a year or so, but for now, I am going to continue listening to Lemonade on Tidal.
You can follow me and my foolishness on Twitter @easonwilson.