Possibly the greatest rapper of all-time, Jay-Z, released an album and went platinum in three days. He was already a legend, but this level of success was unprecedented.
4:44 was an album of extreme vulnerability, unique perspectives, and some harsh truths. Jay-Z wanted to do more than focus on the popular topics of today or brag about his past. Instead, he spoke to the world in a different manner. Whether positive or negative, everyone wants to respond to Jay-Z.
Most artists speak about having millions and what they do with money. Jay-Z is one of the few artists that actually lives the life he raps about. But, you have to admire the fashion in which he brags on his accomplishments. It’s not with the gold chains and fancy cars. Jay harps on his business deals and property he owns, not to mention his own streaming service TIDAL. 4:44 dropped exclusively on TIDAL, as well as to Sprint users in a multi-million dollar deal. Other rappers just aren’t on his level.
There are several lines in multiple songs that take shots at the mentality of most rappers we see today. Making a scene has always been something rappers took part in, but today it’s more than prevalent. We can witness our favorite celebrities’ every single move.
“You on the gram holding money to your ear / There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here.” (The Story Of O.J.)
Jay didn’t need to say names because they all do it. Look at your favorite rappers’ Snapchat or Instagram. You’re almost guaranteed to see them putting on a display. Everyone feels the need to parade around in his or her accomplishments. It’s not enough to simply have money. That would be too civil.
“Y’all still signing deals? For real? After all they done stole for real?” (Moonlight)
With aforementioned bars aimed at rappers in general, everyone feels the need to respond. Louisiana rapper Boosie had a lot to say on Instagram Live, when he declared that “Jay-Z doesn’t run sh*t in the south.” Future also had a Snapchat photo of him doing the money phone, along with the caption: “You ain’t got the juice like that.” Several lesser known artists responded on Instagram in strip clubs with money all over the floor. Everyone seems to be missing the bigger picture here.
Chris Rock explained the difference between being rich and wealthy. The NBA player that gets the check is rich. The owner who writes his checks is wealthy. The importance of money management is rarely stressed in the community. The only people who seem to understand money are the folks who already have it.
“Generational wealth that’s the key/My parents ain’t have sh*t so that shift started with me.” (Legacy)
Everyone who’s responded to Jay-Z hasn’t thought about the bigger picture. At some point, changes have to be made. It’s not like other rappers haven’t attempted to say the same things Jay-Z has said. Sometimes, the messenger matters more than the message.
Jay-Z also pointed out the issues with artists and labels behind the scenes, calling out several executives and the artists that work with them.
“Y’all n*ggas still taking advances huh?/My n*ggas taking real chances” (The Story of O.J.)
With that said, there are some hypocrites. When Joe Budden says these same things on his Complex show, Everyday Struggle, he is bashed for it. Everyone has labeled him as the old hater on the block. The response to Jay-Z speaking negatively about labels has been only positive! Here is yet another case of hypocrisy within the hip-hop world.
Why is the response to Jay-Z so negative? Isn’t this a good thing? We should want our top artists to speak about generational wealth and owning properties. Everyone wants the blueprint on how to be a millionaire, so Jay-Z is literally giving us the game for $9.99.
It makes sense if you love the hype rap. If you love the music without a message but with an amazing beat, a negative response makes sense. Everyone else should accept this piece of art for what it is. Jay-Z was open about his relationship and gave us gems in the process. 4:44 is already in the conversation for album of the year.
Save the negative responses to Jay-Z. Unless you’re a billionaire, I don’t want to hear it.