“Jay-z this, Jay-z that, Jay-z this, Jay-z that, Jay-z that, Jay-z this , Jay-z won’t hold my hand no more, Jay-z won’t give me no money….”
Through the span of his illustrious career there have always been things universally accepted as true about Shawn Carter: Nas destroyed him on “Ether,” his only great work is with Kanye, he only talks about money, he only cares about his money. These are things most people tend to believe are factual. However, here at TheGroupChat Manny&Marv “have a strange way of seeing life like we’re Stevie Wonder with beads under the du-rag.”Jay-Z is a misunderstood individual. It almost seems as though the more he speaks the less the masses understand. Basically, a lot of things we think are true about Jay-z just aren’t: there have been a lot of common misconceptions about Hov and here are ten of them!
Jay-Z is Kanye’s Big Brother
Jay-Z and Kanye West were never “brothers” to begin with. The beginning of the Kanye and Jay-Z relationship stood on the basis of “what can he do for me”, for both parties. In the beginning Jay-Z fell in love with the beats. An excerpt from “Big Brother” by Kanye West off the critically-acclaimed Graduation album goes “I’d play my little songs in that old backroom. He’d bob his head and say ‘damn! Oh that’s you?” referring to soulful tracks created by Kanye that would later find their home on the classic Blueprint album. The Jay-Z of this time had no time to examine the work ethic of a Kanye West or personality for that matter, as Jay was at the top of the culture and gearing up to release his 5th-studio album while developing his Roc-A-Fella Record label behind a slew of up and coming rap stars. While Jay was doing that, on the other side of the spectrum, here you have Kanye, sleeping on Sway’s couch or some shit, just waiting for his big break with the belief that this studio session with Jay-Z could make or break his career. Fast-forwarding to the release of the Graduation album and more specifically the “Big Brother” track, Ye is now validated as one of the top names in Hip-Hop and boy does he know it! Around this time Ye is running on stages at award shows demanding his respect as a musician and solidifying his icon status all the while proclaiming that in order to be “#1” he is going to “beat his brother” referring to Jay-Z. Now the naked eye may listen to Big Brother and say this is homage and that Kanye is just referring to some sort of friendly competition but with some hindsight into today you can clearly see that there was venom in those lines. Jay-Z doesn’t even appreciate Kanye’s dedicated track at all and why would he? The song in itself is ladened with shots and grievances with his so-called brother about petty shit like Jay-Z’s new found admiration with the band Coldplay or ticket distributions. “I told Jay I did a song with Coldplay, next thing I know, he had a song with Coldplay” followed by a “damn..no way.”, as if Jay-Z is somehow attempting to bite the style of the Chicago native. Doubling back even earlier in the track, Kanye refers to a show in Madison Square Garden where Jay-Z only permitted his “little brother” to receive two tickets for the show in order to “keep [Him] at a distance”, a sentiment that Jay would dispute in an interview with The Breakfast Club 105.1 in the later years. On its face, the track “Big Brother” sounds like a heartfelt love song but when you really give it a thorough listen, Kanye is just building to a crescendo of conflict that he would try to create years later on a Saint Pablo Tour stage.
Jay-Z Had no Hand in Lemonade; Jay-Z is Reserved
“Genius” is not an adjective we usually use to describe women, and that’s because our foundational values perpetuate racism and sexism. However, Beyoncé is a genius when it comes to movement, putting together full bodies of work, lighting, imagery, editing, and pure artistry. Not only is she the greatest living entertainer, but she is also the most industrious described as a sheer perfectionist. But when it comes to marketing, ensuring you are getting what you are worth, and being a superstar, without question she takes advantage of the fact that she is married to someone more than a decade older than her, and someone who has actually always been an executive/owner in the music business. Jay’s strategy has always been to respond to the controversy subtly, but to put it on full blast in the music. People alleged he cheated with Free on 106 & Park he responded to that in “Trouble” aired out Rocafella on the whole Kingdom Come album, and in “Lost One” he referenced a break up him and Beyoncé had, because Bey wanted to put her career first. Hov as always felt, fuck the interviews y’all can hear it in the music. After the elevator, people began to see that there was trouble in the marriage of the world’s most famous couple. So what did he do? Have his wife respond to it in music. No Oprah interview, no breakfast club, nah! Put it in the music! Jay never even responded to the cheating rumors until 4:44, he said nothing to Kanye until 4:44, and responded to Drake on records as well. This is Hov’s Modus Operandi: why do an interview when you can put it in music and only increase the intrigue. Also, it is smart financially, because it will make more people want to listen to your music. Yes Jay tends to stay private, and reserved but his music is always personal and revealing. Also, Beyoncé is on record saying how influential and impactful her husband has been in her career. This is not an indictment on Beyoncé, I mean who wouldn’t listen to Jay-Z? Hov has had many innovative album releases and of course Bey has taken notes of that too. The On the Run Tour was his idea too: don’t you remember the tour with Justin Timberlake, and Eminem? Yeah, Hov has frequently collaborated with artists for stadium tours. Don’t be surprised if the joint album with him and Bey is next: they have worked tirelessly to fix their marriage, and now they will both come together to keep on running the world.
Jay-Z Lost the Battle to Nas
The infamous Jay-Z versus Nas battle from the late 90s, early 2000s will forever be etched as one of the most significant Hip-Hop head-to-head matchups in the genre’s history. Nas is widely regarded amongst hip-hop historians and fans as one of the best rappers to ever live, a title earned based on decades of superb displays of lyrical ability. His skills are showcased on classic rap albums such as Illmatic (one of the best albums ever crafted in Hip-Hop to date). During the early moments in the two rappers’ careers, Jay-Z and Nas were casted as “next-up” following the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Unfortunately that pressure seemed to create the right amount of friction that would bring about their competitive egos. Bottomline, the two went at it and the battle was ruthless. The battle reached its apex when Nas released “Ether”, a track that dropped in the summer of 2001 that subsequently made the whole culture stand still and say “wow, that was unexpected”. No one had ever heard Nas spout such vitriol towards another rapper like that. Nas came off like an angry drunk uncle or a kid in high school who finally had enough of the bullshit. Ether is the track that everyone knows. Ether is the prototypical diss-record. Ether is a great diss-record but it is not necessarily the end all be all of this battle like people would assume. Ether is synonymous to a school yard “roasting session”. 95 percent of Ether is about how ugly Jay-Z is. Seriously. Seriously? Jay-Z won this battle by a landslide simply because Jay-Z wasn’t just “roasting” his opponent, he attacked Nas where it hurt. Jay-Z’s diss songs toward Nas were fact based. Jay-Z would examine Nas’ career as well as his personal life and create masterpieces around that. It’s almost comparable to a boxer versus a brawler. Those who know anything about boxing know that a boxer damn near always beats a brawler and it almost always isn’t even close. A boxer can pick a brawler apart masterfully with counter-punches and educated attacks. That’s exactly what Jay did. I would cite “Takeover”, “Super Ugly”, the “Back From France”, and Rap City Freestyles from The Basement on BET, and “Blueprint 2” as sources for moments where Jay just simply outclassed Nas with rebuttals like counter-punchers and damning bars like stiff jabs. With every new verse, Hov would expose Nas’ contradictory lifestyle that he’d depict in his rhymes as if he was so above Nas’ juvenile swipes then turn right around and subsequently stoop to his adversary’s level by poking fun at Nas’ flawed personal relationships with his child’s mother. To use a battle rap term, Jay-Z’s schemes were so good they almost make the listener feel indifferent about some of Nas’ greatest hits such as the forever catchy “You Owe Me” where in Blueprint 2 Hov points out that “You can’t give ‘cred to anything dude says..same dude that gives you ice and now you owe him some head?” or the gritty “Made You Look” where in one of those dated Rap City Basement freestyles, Jay pokes fun at the classic chorus of the record with “They shooting! Nobody dying! Somebody better put somebody’s body on somebody’s iron sometime soon or somebody’s lying!”. Jay’s cleverness and wit just outmatched Nas at every turn.
Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come is Trash
While his ninth studio album titled Kingdom Come seems to be a consensus rival to Magna Carta for Jay-Z’s worst album, we won’t argue with preference but we do believe Kingdom Come is greatly unappreciated. For its time, it may have lacked that main theme that most classic albums have but let’s cut the man some slack. It was his first album since coming out of retirement and it introduced us to a new Hov. Jay-Z was much more mature on this album. We got to really learn about how Jay-Z felt about the entertainment industry as it stood in the year of 2006 along with his stance politically on “Minority Report” was eye-opening. During the release of this album, the climate of Hip-Hop got strange with the South gearing up to really take over the scene. The sounds were changing. We can’t blame the guy for getting his feet wet and trying new sounds in hindsight. Beach Chair is still an amazingly timeless gem that is so underrated in the catalog of Shawn Carter.
Jay-Z is Too Old to Rap
This is one of my favorites. We have been calling Jay-Z old since Kingdom Come. Now we say hip-hop is a young man’s game, and because that’s the notion we accept it, don’t question it, and don’t try to disprove it. Why though, does hip-hop have to be a young man’s game? In nearly every other genre, musicians make music well into their fifties: since when was there an age limit on art? On expression? When you turn fifty you automatically forget how to express yourself? From Kingdom Come (2006) all the way to 4:44 (2017) we have been saying “Hov is old, no one wants to hear a 40 year old rap.” Remember “A Star is Born” though? The message in that song was clear: Jay has competed in different generations of rap, and has been successful in all of them or essentially “there has never been a nigga this good for this long.” Yeah we say Jay is too old to rap, but when he drops an album unlike most rappers his age he is genuinely in competition sales wise with whomever the number one guy is at the time. Some will say he lacks relatability at an old age, and this may be true but who said he’s trying to relate to millennials? Do your parents try to relate to you? No! They try to teach you, try to “free you” and sometimes they show you they are cool enough to connect with you. That’s exactly Hov’s sentiment: he aims to teach the youth, to show us better ways, to show us “Hov did that, so hopefully you don’t have to go through that.” And then sometimes he just wants to show you he’s the cool uncle at the BBQ. In brief though, you are never too old to do anything, it’s really all about how you present it. Jay wants to catch The Beetles in number one albums, and set the trend for rappers to keep rapping past their primes, and evolve. Every time Hov drops, we listen period! Hip-hop music is too consequential, it feeds too many black families for us to put an age limit on it. Let the old folks rap!
Jay-Z Don’t be on Social Media: He Don’t Know What’s Going on
We all act as if Jay-Z lives on another planet or like he is not of this world. Yeah he is the Elohim, but remember he made us in his image: NEWSFLASH Jay is from earth. We have never seen him on Facebook, had one post on Instagram, barely posts on Twitter unless he’s dropping something, and snapchat? “He don’t even know what that means.” But in my best Charles Barkley voice “let me tell ya somethin’ Ernie” I don’t know if it’s from a troll account, or it’s from Bleek and Lenny telling him. But Jay-z is well connected with social media: he see’s things going on. In fact, I am positive he is an avid viewer of a lot of the things that are first posted on social media, I mean like it or not social media is the way many people now get their news in the these globalist times. Jay seen Miley’s twerkin’ he saw the whole “Damn Daniel” craze, he see’s these rappers and their money phones on Instagram. Look if Jay-z is in the Illuminati it is because he really is the all seeing eye. Hov can lie to y’all he can’t lie to us. I’m telling you all he got an account where he follows the Shaderoom and Balleralert, I mean how the hell did he know rappers be on the gram holding money to their ears? He recognizes the dangers of social media, so he treads carefully. But you don’t think he knows about what Blac Chyna did to Rob? Come on! There’s a reason North still hasn’t played with Blue! He constantly drops rap lines about current events, because just like you and I he can’t help but pay attention to all the crazy things that go on in this world.
Jay Z is a “Subliminal Rapper” and he Doesn’t Respond to Other Rappers
Over time Jay-Z developed the image of being a “subliminal rapper” or a “silent sniper” when it comes to addressing issues with his peers. That’s fake news. Jay-Z will respond to any and every rapper on his own time. His only stipulation as an active rapper seems to be that he will respond to a rapper’s “diss” when and how he wants. There is a laundry list of rappers that have gone against Jay-Z and we’d be hard pressed to find a rapper in that list that he has ignored. Jay-Z can’t help but respond to competition. Think about the fact that he still gave a relatively new artist in Jim Jones the time of day even after voicing his frustration with rappers like Jim even speaking his name. But this is where the confusion begins because although he may be frustrated at times with certain no-name rappers speaking lowly of him, he seems to enjoy making response records to them. The first two tracks on his Blueprint 3 album are response tracks (“What We Talkin’ About”, “Thank You”) to numerous rappers. On “Thank You” specifically, Jay-Z seems to enjoy seeing his enemies in a bad way. He’s clearly having fun watching his opponents’ careers die right in front of him. To call Hov a sublime rapper is simply careless. One would be taking his words for granted. When just given some thought we all can easily decipher who he is talking about whether he is saying the person’s name or not. People forget, Nas was dead in the water until Jay-Z revived his career by dissing him. So yes, it may seem like Jay is sometimes hesitant to give rappers his full attention,because they get more from the beef than he does, but make no mistake or ask LeBron, you say his name he’s gonna respond.
Jay-Z Only Cares About His Money
The billionaire bracket is really emblematic for Hov: he is no fool he knows money is not everything, he values money, because he knows how important it is for black people to get what they are worth, know their worth, and create generational wealth so they can then create better communities. Moreover, a billion dollars to jay-z would mean hope for so many: to see a boy from the projects reach a billion? How doesn’t that motivate young black men to keep fighting? Hov is not just in it for the money he is in it to be an emblem. He is steadfast on leaving billions of dollars for Blue, Sir and Rumi, yes, but really listen to “Legacy.” Jay obviously wants his kids to have everything he didn’t, but he more so wants to show black people how they can begin to parallel what many white Americans have done for years: own things, and create wealth that can last for generations. I mean, “do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?”Jay never takes less than he is worth either, because he is aware that would send an injurious message: if you can rip off the greatest rapper ever, then you can rip off any rapper and the cycle of black exploitation in America will only keep on happening. Moreover, It isn’t the money per say for Jay, it’s the meaning behind it. Jay has always felt that his presence was charity, and many people have felt that this is some form of ego aggrandizing, or a way for him to not give money to foundations. But this again is a misconception: the Shawn Carter foundation has put many kids through school, and Jay genuinely feels as if his mere presence stands as an example for the youth. Jay has always wanted to open doors up with the hopes that we will kick them down!
Jay-z Don’t put Nobody on; Backstabbed all his Friends
People really act as if this man is not responsible for Kanye West, Ne-yo, Rick Ross, and Rihanna. So many people in the music industry talk about what Jay did not do for them, and his former partner Dame likes to act as if Jay does not want to have other bosses around him, or share the wealth. All of this is just simply apocryphal: Bleek has his own label, a great new podcast, and is leading the charge for Dussé. Emory did a bid, but now he is leading the charge for Roc Nation’s clothing line (Hov we want our paper plane hats). Chaka is the president of the Roc Nation record label, Juan runs the sports, Ty Ty is an executive, some would say he’s the Hand of the King for the Rocnation empire, or Hov’s chief of staff. Everyone around Jay is a boss, and he is largely responsible for putting them in their position. Some of the same people he grew up with in the projects, are now sitting in board rooms with him. No matter what Dame or Jaz says, Hov has put on, and changed the lives of many men and women. Sure many of the businesses they are involved in Jay owns, but excuse me what is wrong with that? “Jigga got this shit poppin’” no one is in their position if Jay isn’t the greatest rapper to ever live, so of course he should make money off of things he is responsible for: think of it as people essentially using his likeness. Many of the old Rocafella members failed to evolve, and in hindsight they realized this, they realized Jay was trying to show them the right way. Honestly, Jay had a disdain for all those Rocafella members and only really wanted to hang with Ty and his little brother Bleek. He knew a lot of those guys just were not of the same mentality as him, and had no plans of maturing anytime soon. Listen to Peedi, Beans and many of the other Roc members now. Yeah at first they casted aspersions on Jay, but now they realize he only wanted them to grow the fuck up even though they had no plans to. In essence, the benevolent Jay still tried to show them how to be kings, even if they only wanted to be soldiers.
Jay-Z isn’t Woke.
I almost don’t even know why this is a misconception, but yes! Many people believe that, the man that has been telling you drug dealers aren’t malevolent, but are a product of black oppression for twenty plus years is not woke. I mean did anyone listen to American Gangster did anyone get the motif? Since Reasonable Doubt Hov has pointed out that society puts young black men in such a desperate situation, that they have nothing left to turn to but drug dealing. I get it, sometimes we feel that rich black people are not really black, or don’t understand our struggles. But we forget a lot of them came from the same hardships, and yeah it may be on another level but they still face discrimination and obstacles because of their race. You OJ Simpsons, didn’t listen? His skin is still black. Ya’ll really think the man that said,“I’m America’s worst nightmare I’m young, black, and holdin’ my nuts like yeah” doesn’t rub old white executives the wrong way? Hov has supported the black lives matter movement, he put the federal government on blast for their handling of hurricane Katrina on “Minority Report”: Hov was one of many that conveyed this idea of black poor kids being inconsequential to America, because they were essentially left stranded in New Orleans. Hov was one of the many that held America accountable for it’s egregious actions in 2005. Again, his foundation has put a lot of underprivileged kids through school, he has lambasted the prison industrial complex, has always pointed out how authorities target poor black people, he was even one of the first rappers to come out in support of gay marriage. We have a certain image of what a civil rights leader or activist could be, but honestly it could be you, me or a musician.