Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and the Cost of Loyalty
Authors Disclaimer: For those who read
my columns weekly for its, as Ive been told, intellectual value, this might
not be for you:
Never read the Quran or Islamic
Only Psalms I read was on the arms of my
Jay-Z, Intro, The Dynasty Roc La Familia, 2000.
Listening to Beanie Sigel excoriate his
former (?) Big Brother last week couldnt have put a wider smile on my face. Simply
put, its about time. For those whose lives are forever buried under a rock, it
all started last weekend when the AllHipHop rumor section reported
Beanie Sigel had made certain unflattering advancesor allusionstoward Jay-Z
at a Philly concert.
Upon reading the rumorswhich depended solely
on accusations that Sigel had repeatedly declared on stage, I run this town
tonightI couldnt but hang my head in shame for what, as I believed, Hip-Hop
media had come to. I saw this as yet another validation of my lamentation
a few months back that [t]he present state of Hip-Hop media is
regrettable. The days of intellectuals, cultural critics, and music scholars
are all but over. Now begins an age of pseudo-journalists and half-witted
bloggers whove convinced themselves that a column consists of 400 words and
two paragraphs. And that, Everyone has a blog but not enough brains to match
them. But in less than 24 hours, further details surfaced, which told of Sigel
being escorted by police officers from the venuecompliments of the Jigga man.
As time advanced, it was becoming increasingly clear to some that the best, and
worst, of this ordeal, was yet to come.
Sure enough, a couple of days later
Sigel dropped the much-anticipated diss
You' Talkin Bout (Average Cat), implicitly revealing some salacious
secrets about Jay-Z, the Roc-A-Fella dynasty demolition, and the Jigga mans
newfound corporate identitywhich some of us have known, and written about, for
Sigel complained of indifference
directed his way by Jay-Z while incarceratedthe many times hes been locked
up. He also threatened to expose some personal elements Jay-Z might want to
keep secret (I was the fly on the wall: sh** I witnessed/ I can say sh** that make
B look at you different/)for as long as his reputation is valuable. The climax,
however, seemed to be the recounting of a meeting held with HOVA, in which he
pleaded to be released from his contract, but the man in the suit bounced that
tennis ball around your office for an hour, and went back and forth with me,
and told me you aint want to let me go. (Bounced
a tennis ball? He learned that from the White folks, Beans!) Sigel says
Jay-Z asked if he was cash-strapped, but he shot down any offers: He just wanted
his freedom. Plus, 50 Cent was
plotting a couple of power moves with him and Freewayboth stopped in their
tracks shortly after.
Why did Jay-Z find it so important to
have Beanie around him? The reasons arent at all indecipherablefor all the
street credibility lost these last few years (trust me: it matters to HOVA), to
keep his most respected Colonel/Major General around, and, most importantly, to
repudiate rampant rumors that he only cared about a few pet projects (Jay-Z,
Jeezy, Rihanna) who would work the tracks for him.
But in spite of it all, Sigel insists Average
Cat isnt a diss record. Its also not the green-light for everybody to
start making a diss Jay-Z record. Far from it. This is me taking my brother
in the yard for 5 minutes.
Heres some salient advice for HOVA: Run like the wind! Dont attempt to battle
Beans. And dont send no lieutenant his way, either. If you want J. Coles
career eviscerated before it begins, unleash
him on Beans. Your best bet, it seems, might be making things up with Sigel.
This is a guy who, even with all the bullsh** youve put him through, still
believes loyalty comes first. You might want to humble thyself, and listen carefully to his concerns and/or
Unfortunately, Jay-Z appears incapable
of humilityas his
first response was to accuse Sigel of squandering golden opportunities and
of being ungrateful.
Those of us whove followed Beans for
years were only left wondering what took so
long. It was evident before long Beans would bust and spilltheres only so
much a man can take before breaking bounds of loyalty. And, in fact, that might
have been the most loyal thing he did his whole relationship with Jay-Zrefusing
anymore to take slugs for a man whose conscience is only as costly as the next
business deal signed.
(I was shocked, I was sad Jay didnt call me himself), all share similar
views. Cmon, Jay-Z. They cant be all wrong. Unless, of course, he sees this
as some secret conspiracy to bring a
Black man down!
The Jay-Z-Beanie Sigel controversy couldnt
have been more timely, as it coincides with reports that Lil Wayne, scheduled
to be locked up for a year on July 2007 weapon possession charges, might have
avoided sentencing if he refused to take the fall for the true owner of the guns. For all
my quarrels with Lil Wayne, I respect his loyalty.
Late January 2008, video
surfaced of the 30-year-old rapper cussing out his entourage, hurling his
jacket at his DJ, and leading the concert crowd in chants of F**k You,
directed toward the men behind him. I just want all the mutha***kas that
[have] been with me, that aint gon ever be with me again, to know I did it for
yall, he said, much to the school-girl-crowds oblivion-infused amusement. Earlier
that day, his tour bus was stopped at an Arizona U.S. Border Patrol, and in it discovered
four ounces of marijuana, over 1 ounce of cocaine, 41 grams of Ecstasy, and
various drug paraphernalia.
He had just been rattled by the reality
that promises and their fulfillment in matters of friendship are two separate
and unequal executions.
Lil Wayne is currently in a predicament
not unlike that Jazz icon Thelonious Monk faced in 1951 with fellow pianist Bud
Powell, when arrested for drug possession. Powell was 7 years his junior and
considered a younger brother. Monk couldnt see such budding, bright talent go
to waste, so he took the fall, and, as a result, lost his Cabaret Cardthe
Almighty license required to play at liquor-serving Bars; particularly more
costly for a Negro Jazz musician of the times. For 6 years, Monk was denied his
former life, but he came back swinging, and many have known him ever
sinceregardless of all the slanderous and condescending definitions formed by
uninformed criticsas a principled pianist with an even better record as a
human being. It would do Lil Wayne well to pick up acclaimed professor Robin
D.G. Kelleys latest work, a stellar biography on Monk, aptly titled, Thelonious
But one need not even look so far back
as a half-century. Prodigy, one half of the New York legendary group Mobb Deep,
provides one of the finest examples Loyalty has offered in a while. In October
2007, Prodigy was sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars for gun possession.
Prodigy contends, however, the real reason he is serving a sentence at all,
following what he believes to be an illegal trunk-search, is for turning down offers,
proposed by the NYPD, to set up G-Unit General 50 Cent.
Speaking a couple of years ago on Sirius Radio, he revealed: When they locked me
up they tried to get me to set up 50 Cent. They wanted me to plant drugs and
guns in his car. I was like, Hell no, I aint doing that. They told me if I
plant stuff in his car, they would let me walk. To avoid his fate, he advised
peers to stop f**king putting rims on your car, stop buying all this f**king,
fa**ot-ass jewelry that they stealing from black people in Africa, anyway, and
just put cameras in your car. Think about your safety, think about surveillance.
Theres no evidence to back up Prodigys
side, but its highly unlikely he would dare accuse the NYPD of such offense if
it never took place.
Prodigy is of the same tribe Beanie
Sigel hails from. Both believe loyalty has no superior. Unfortunately, both
dont seem to have equally loyal Generals.
So, for instance, while 50 was working
hard behind the scenes trying to
think much of Sigels plight enough to send not one picture, a letter.
And while 50 was recruiting
out his old neighborhood for a mess of pottage. Of course Jay-Z isnt
the worst thing since Santa Claus, and 50 Cent isnt Gods unblemished gift to
the world; but the contrast is quite startling.
Theres a cost to be paid when
disloyalty sets into any camp. If Jay-Z is smart, and he sure seems so, he
would make quick amends before his empire flattens like a tipped house of cards.
Tolu Olorunda is a social commentator
and a columnist for BlackCommentator.com.
He can be reached at: Tolu.Olorunda@gmail.com.