Jay Z is probably the only rap dude that can get grown
men excited. Now, for what may
appear to be obvious reasons, after that statement, I feel the need to interject
no homo. Do people even say that
anymore? And not to digress, but I
ask, was it ever cool to say anyway?
Last year, my wife and I had the privilege of witnessing the sold out,
Heart of the City tour when he and Mary J. Blige visited Baltimore. And on several different occasions
during that day, I recall gleefully saying, Im excited! Truth be told, I did have an early
afternoon sip of my favorite blended Canadian whisky, but I wont put my
gleefulness on the drink. Instead,
I was honestly excited to hear Jay spit his lyrics in person. You know, flyer than the piece of paper
bearing my name. I got hottest
chick in the game, wearing my chain.
My name is Hov!
That night wasnt my first time seeing Jay on tour. As a matter of fact, I had the
opportunity to see him on two prior occasions. The first time was probably him at his
best, entertainment wise, and that was during the Hard Knock Life Tour. It was a Roc-A-Fella, Ruff Ryder
collaboration with special guests Method Man and Redman. That show was bananas. Anyone who was there would concur and if
you were unable to bare witness yourself, I suggest you go rent the movie
The second time I saw Jay was when he toured with R.
Kelly. I believe that tour was
billed “The Best of Both Worlds.” I
must admit, the CD was and still is incredible. I think their plan to record and then
tour together had the potential to be monumental; however, we all know the
outcome. For reasons never
mentioned (wink), Jay and Kels didnt hit the stage together until an hour after
the scheduled time. Still, the show
itself was amazing. And once again,
Jay did him. That was during the
time when he rapped, its not even close, just leave it alone. Im Michael Jordan, I play for the team
I own. Hey, I was impressed then
and Im even more impressed now.
In preparation for the Blueprint 3 experience, initially
scheduled to drop on Friday September 11, 2009, I recalled all of my Jay
moments, which culminated with me being in attendance at his sold out show last
night at the First Mariner Arena.
Before purchasing the BP3, I first viewed my copy of Backstage, which I
own on VHS. As I watched the tape, I rejoiced in my memories of seeing the
actual live show. I also wondered
if the Muslim brother who killed the cipher that Jay and DMX had going on
backstage, as seen in the video footage, ever got signed. He was nice! That night in the spring of 1999, Red
and Meth were dangling from the rafters above the crowd performing How High,
Beanie Sigel was introduced to us spitting acapella to an attentive and
astonished crowd, we heard the growl and bark of DMX and saw him stand toe to
toe with Jay. And Jay, well
hindsight shows now that he was just getting started. In preparation for the
Blueprint 3 experience, I also listened to the first and second Blueprints
remembering my favorites and recalling what I was doing during the times those
songs were played in heavy rotation.
And as I watched his Madison Square Garden performance on FUSE, I wore my do
rag (just because), which my wife found to be hilarious. Needless to say, Im a Jay Z
Last nights performance was immaculate. I stood on my feet for more than ninety
minutes with a crowd of roughly 14,000 people. I sung along to countless hits. I two stepped and brushed my shoulders
off. And in the midst of it all, I
had an epiphany. As I watched Jay
Zs influence on the crowd, which ranged in ages from 3 on up (yup a 3 year old
got on stage and put the Roc sign in the air), with representations of all
different ethnicities, I admitted for the first time, that he is the greatest
rapper of all time. That was hard
for me to say, because up until then, I always professed Tupac to be the
G.O.A.T. So in my comparison of Jay
to Pac, I concluded that I was fond of Tupac because he spoke to my youthful and
rebellious spirit. Tupac captured
and voiced feelings that I could relate to as a young man, minus the
responsibilities that I have now as an adult. Thats not to say that Jay Z did not
voice relatable experiences when he initially debuted as a Roc-A-Fella artist,
but to Jays advantage weve had thirteen years to grow together, and as I then
related to Tupac as a child, I now relate to Jay Z as a man.
I think its ludicrous for an artist like Gucci Mane to
say Jay Z isnt the best. Then
again, no its not. Maybe its
bothersome knowing that if Gucci Mane is saying that Jay isnt the best, the
thought of who he may suggest is better, which I honestly hope isnt himself, is
offensive. Allow me to also add
that I dont think Baby was serious when he most recently said Lil Wayne was
better than Jay Z because he does the most and make the most money. If he was serious, then in the voice of
Ed Lover, facial expression intact I must say, Cmon Son. Get the fuck out of here!
In addition to being lyrical and the fact that hes been
successful on all levels, he has debuted eleven number one albums, surpassing
Elvis Pressley. But probably more
important than anything else to me is what Jay Z embodies, which is the essence
of young men raised in inner city America. We shared the same experiences. We were dealt similar hands and faced
the same obstacles. Many of us
became statistics and fell victim to societal ills, but there were a few who
successfully managed. Jay Z
obviously was one who succeeded and was intelligent and creative enough to
lyrically convey his pathway to success, with the hope that his message would
somehow inspire those of us who thought his level of success was impossible and
unattainable. Thanks Jay for
showing us that its not.
Oftentimes, BIG and Tupac are the only two MCs that we
place slightly ahead of Jay in argument, which is unfortunate in his case
because how can one compete against nostalgia? Honestly, their body of work is
incomparable to Jay Zs. Real talk,
its like comparing apples to oranges.
Feel me on this: I was
raised in a town where the best basketball playground legend ever will always be
Skip Wise. Ive been around people
who have vehemently told me that if Skip Wise would have made it in the league,
he would have been better than Michael Jordan. Im certain that most people would say
that we cant intelligently make that argument simply because were comparing an
if to an is; a what would have been to a what was. With that being said, consider what
were doing when we compare Jay Z to BIG and Pac. Were
comparing new material to old material.
Were comparing growth to something thats infertile. Were comparing life and death, a person
to a corpse. Were comparing what
we think, to what we know. So, for
myself, from this day forward, its no longer what Pac meant to me, instead its
what Jay Z means to me.
Hands down, he has accomplished what he intended to
do. He came, he saw, and he
conquered. So as he says in the
chorus of Everyday a Star is Born, clap for him.