I am not a Jay-Z Stan. Quite honestly, I don’t like the majority of his music. I have many of his albums but actually enjoy only approximately three songs from each. Don’t get me wrong I definitely bump those songs that I do like but I also quickly end up switching out that album for something more my musical taste. With that said, I respect him as an artist. I more importantly respect him as an evolved black man. We have been fortunate enough to see Jay-Z evolve from a rapper to an entrepreneur. From a disrespectful bachelor to a seemingly devoted and respectful husband. We have been fortunate to see a figure that we grew up listening to become a legend. We got the opportunity to see a black man from the projects grow up and have early morning tea with political figures. We got to see what some of the biggest Tupac and Biggie fans would have loved to see from their respective idols. The artist that time and wisdom would create. We bore witness to evolution.
I say all this to say that Jay-Z has earned a position of respect. He is not just an artist anymore but an icon. As I was watching a YouTube interview of him, he said something that stuck with me. He articulated the way that the black rap community has changed. While in his day it was unheard of for a black man to reach the level of notoriety and fortune that he was able to reach, his early day level of success has thankfully become the norm. While artist back in the day could innovatively spit rhymes on the freshness of their money flow that flow has quickly become sour. I appreciated that insightfulness from Jay-Z. Jay-Z was simply saying that as a result of the black condition changing that an artist’s raps have to reflect this. I agree.
When Jay-Z spoke of the change in direction of new-age rapper’s dialogue I am sure he wasn’t soliciting them to cry on records about how messed up it is on the top, and how the money is just way too heavy in their pockets. I am sure he did not want them to thoughtlessly say “I wish I wasn’t famous.” Really? I think that is the most disrespectful thing to say on a record. Not only is it uninspiring it is so simplistic that Drake should have lost his label of “rapper” on that fumble alone. If he doesn’t want to be famous then he should simply stop rapping.
Drake’s new album Thank Me Later was released last Tuesday. Last week a friend asked if I was going to be buying it. I laughed and said that I wouldn’t. He definitely doesn’t need my help, in actuality by his own admission he hates being famous so I see it as me helping him out by not spending my pennies, in comparison to the tree limbs of money he has (again his words), on his album. I never have been a fan of Drake. I have somewhat of a love hate thing going on with him. Some things he says illicit excitement in the craftiness of his flow. Other times I just hear whining. And his voice is quite annoying.
Understandably fame is a double-edge sword and it is reasonable that artists would speak on that experience. In my frustration with Drake I am not trying to pigeonhole these artists into not speaking on their experiences. I am just baffled in how this is already Drake’s experience. He is already tired of the fame. He just became famous two minutes ago. Mind you, he just put out his debut album, let me reiterate, his debut album. When Kanye began talking about the woes of celebrity “trade the Grammy plaques just to have my granny back/ remember she had that bad hip like a fanny pack/chasing that stardom would turn you into a maniac/all the way in Hollywood and I can’t even act/they pull their cameras out and God damn he snapped/ used to want this thing forever y’all can have it back” I, for one, embraced it. We had all received a glimpse into his shaky mental state at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, so his newfound stance on fame was right on time.
Kid Cudi is another new generation artist who seems to have a lot of ghosts in his closet. When I hear him rap these ghosts, however, I am stimulated. There is an interest that I have in what he is talking about. He isn’t crafty with a few of his rhymes but most of them. In addition Kid Cudi is not complaining about his celebrity there is actually a line where he is boastfully throwing his fame into the faces of girls from high school who thought he was weird. Kid Cudi is endearing, strange, but he has something to talk about. I think that is the main problem with Drake. Drake has nothing to talk about. Don’t get me wrong I like about half the songs on the album, but still in the direction of depth, he doesn’t have much. Understandably not all artists are going to be thought provoking. We have more that are not thought provoking than the ones that are. I guess my problem is that if Drake is going to get so much acknowledgment for being great I would like for him to actually be great, to be the voice of our generation. Instead, Drake is saying regular things, maybe in unconventional ways, but still just real basic stuff. And he is saying it at nauseam. Sadly, I won’t be thanking him now or later if he doesn’t get his act together.
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5 years ago