Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Do People Love Jay-Z?

What do people see in Jay-Z? More to the point, what did I ever see in Jay-Z? I listen to songs I used to think were great, like 'Hovi Baby' or 'Watcher 2,' and the parts that wowed me at the time - "know the shit I don't write be the illest shit that's ever been recited in the game, word to the hyphen in my name!" - now seem to fall totally flat. At one time I bought into the myth that Jay never got outshined on a track (except maybe on the 'Ha' remix); now if I hear a song with him and another rapper, or three other rappers, his verse is almost always my least favorite. Take 'Poppin Tags'; it seems pretty clear to me now that even a young Killer Mike gets him on that. But back in 2004, Jay's verse was the only one I knew the words to, and I loved it, particularly "there he goes, talking about hoes and dough again/I'm surprised I got so much dough to spend." What was I hearing? For so many people, Jay seems to be this lovable household god, the rapping equivalent of Oprah. 6 years later, I would've thought the days of my being held captive on road trip Black Album sing-alongs would be over by now. After all the post-retirement pratfalls, you'd think the days of people calling Jay the G.O.A.T., as if Nas, Big, Ghostface, Rakim, Kane, KRS, Scarface, Andre 3000, Ice Cube, Chuck D, and Prodigy had never lived, would be over. But no. A guy with two very good albums and many collections of filler continues to be talked up as the greatest. I can only conclude that the very things I can't stand about Jay, the reasons I'm so fed up with him that if I had to go to a desert island and had to choose between Jay's catalogue and Yo Gotti's to take with me, I'd take the Yo Gotti - his 6-o'clock-news-anchor-like blandness, his lack of personality, of idiosyncracy, of humor or emotion, his inability to be anything more or less than this vague universal all things to all people Hova-man - are what make him so beloved. In that respect he's a lot like Jordan. Except that Jordan, notwithstanding his carefuly cultivated persona, was a transcendent basketball player and Jay rarely sounds like much more to me than an insecure guy trapped in an only occasionally convincing ice grill.

1 comment:

lar said...

easy to fall out of love when your oldest point of reference seems to be The Black Album, the exact point @ which he started to really suck