Author Topic: The Politicization of Jay-Z  (Read 1471 times)

Offline imchills

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The Politicization of Jay-Z
« on: July 13, 2017, 01:29:15 pm »
Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex. You thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did. — James Baldwin, “The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy”

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. — James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

He drifted off to sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love. So her soul crawled out from its hiding place. — Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Some of us even hoped integration would be the answer, but integration was one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made. It made the white man think he could be equal to us. I don’t hate the whites. But we must get ahead in business and then use the white man to work for us. Everyone must have his place and it’s time we took our place as the boss. — James Brown

Jay-Z is selling one-third of his Tidal streaming service to Sprint for $200 million, according to a report released earlier today by Billboard….He initially paid $56 million for Tidal….A Sprint spokesperson confirmed…that Jay-Z and his fellow artist-owners would retain equity in the streaming service. — Forbes, January 2017

The lil radicals now online assailing Jay-Z for propagating that oxymoron Black Capitalism have got it all wrong. Try Black Tribalism, my nuh. Try Black economic nationalism, to be specific. Marcus Garvey wouldn’t be mad at Hov’s 4:44; nor would Garvey’s hero, Booker T. Washington; nor the heir apparent of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam; nor Berry Gordy neither. Not to mention David Bowie, who related how, when he first shook P. Diddy’s hand, Diddy said, “Wow, strong grip — I need to meet your trainer.” To which Bowie retorted, “That grip’s not from the gym, Puff. That’s from forty years of trying to hold on to your money in the music business.”

It’s easy to forget in the fog of marital wars, Bey, and bling that Jay is a Brooklyn-project and New Jersey–public-high-school dropout who rapped his way to running a near billion-dollar empire that has already out-gripped Bowie in its myriad holdings. Now, if you take Hov at his word, he wants to use those Midas resources to go where no musical race-man before him has gone in putting his art, his philanthropy, and his boardroom acquisitions toward Black liberation.

Jay-Z’s thirteenth album is being rightly touted for its True Confessions and marital professions, but read between the coded lines, 4:44 is also a business primer from the only rapper in the top twenty of Forbes’s richest-celebrities list who’s been investing his money into new ventures as fast as he makes it. “Y’all out here still takin’ advances/Me and my niggas takin’ real chances,” Jay tells us on “The Story of O.J.” A cursory look at his wide range of investments — sports bars, sports teams, a sports agent company, real estate, hotels, beverages, clothing, and, at one point, a group looking to build a racetrack casino in Queens — affirms his sense of financial adventurism. The philanthropic bent that saw him setting up trust funds for Sean Bell’s children, bailing out Black Lives Matter activists, and producing a documentary about the brutality at Rikers that drove Kalief Browder to suicide is less apparent from scanning Jay’s Forbes updates.

4:44 finds Jay and innovative, intimacy-obsessed producer No I.D. reinvigorating Jay’s capacity for superlative rap artistry with a dreamy banquet of plaintive tracks that treat samples from Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, and Stevie Wonder as portals to spiritual and pecuniary deliverance. Jay’s in high messianic mode as flawed father, husband, and community business leader throughout. There’s mos def a newfound passion and a purpose to his writing as he ramps up the gravitas of his verses, demands respect for his adulthood, and expands his multigenerational and gender-nonconforming flock like no rapper before him. (“Smile” ’s embrace of his mother Grace’s coming out and his couplet in defense of Young Thug’s dandyism strike us as warm, palpitating gestures in that latter regard.) In terms of sustaining millennial relevancy into middle age, he’s become like the Rolling Stones, the hardest-working measure of how long beyond the age of forty you can sell out stadiums in a youthcentric genre.


Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: The Politicization of Jay-Z
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 08:48:35 pm »
I really like this piece.  No surprise, Greg Tate wrote it.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: The Politicization of Jay-Z
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 03:54:17 am »
Wow. That was a very good article. I wasn't impressed by "Story of O.J." and felt it was pseudo-conscious, but this article makes me want to check out the whole album and listen to it. Perhaps there is more there than I suspected.