Parents have been nagging for centuries, hands balled into angry old-man fists, shaking them all willy-nilly at the despicable vulgarities of that damned, infernal racket. Music has had its inventors, dissenters, and its pissy ancestors: “Beethoven, turn that shit down!” But such frustrations fall on deaf ears.
I can’t imagine an older generation that has adapted to the change and has welcomed the music of their children with open mind and fond ears (barring the ‘hip’ parents who overuse faintly racial colloquialisms and upturn their neon green visors).
What comes to mind firstly is the image of horrified moms shouting shenanigans at the snappy hips of Elvis Presley or the wild god-eyed protesters declaring the satanic repercussions of playing a Black Sabbath record backwards. I get it. I mean I don’t really, but when someone else has kids for me, maybe I will.
However, I think there comes a time for our generation to question our own music - to critically assess what fossilized remnant of our culture will reach the grubby hands of the next generations. We really need to get in there and delve into the social issues and concerns that plague every grind-induced beat.
Of course, we’ve had these discussions before: tedious and slightly infuriating. Rap music invites the most spasmodic and violently divergent reactions. And I’m all for it- let’s get right to the bottom of it. Baby certainly has got enough back.
Now, we could expound upon the obvious: rap music glorifies a life of crime, it endorses rampant drug abuse and it promotes the continued subjugation of women. And, yes, in the vast majority of popular rap, these tropes do manifest themselves. But I’m preoccupied by something deeper, something far more serious - something that claws at me in its absence, keeping me awake into the wee hours of the morning clutching my pillow in abject despair - it’s that gaping lack of veracity. And at the crux of it is the only truth: Jay-Z motherfucking lied to us all.
It was a few weeks ago when I discovered his farce, splitting earbuds with a friend on a long bus trip - the two of us exhausting our knowledge of fantastic throwbacks, hips swaying in seats with a certain sting of nostalgia.
Somewhere after the smooth baby-making stylings of Usher and the charming, agricultural twang of Nelly, the first rift washed over me in the vigor of youth and my arms could do nothing against the overwhelming force to push them in the air. The usual appreciation slipped from our lips, “Ahhh shiyettt” and “Damn, that’s my jam!” as we moved our limbs in synchronized undulation.
Now “Big Pimpin’” is a classic every which way you look at it. Old school Jay-Z: enough said. Incomparable, he grunts and fronts the premise, promise and success of fucking bitches and getting money - two concepts clearly near and dear to my heart.
And then there it is, the lines that drop my heart into the deepest depth of sorrow/ an ether binge: “Me give my heart to a woman/ not for nothin’ not gonna happen/ I’ll be forever mackin”. I hissed in disapproval.
Big pimpin’ Jay-Z, oh really? Whatever happened to forever? You promised me forever. When did it become okay not just to ‘thug ‘em, love ‘em, [and] leave ‘em?’ What the fuck happened to you? You have a kid now, bro - and there isn’t even a baby momma involved. You got wifed up, son. Tsk tsk.
Anger. Anger and the infinite agony of loneliness are the only emotions for me in this moment. Spit truth. What happened to not stopping til you get them in their birthday suits? Now I’m not going to say I cried - but I cried. What the fuck, HOVA?
When, I mean WHEN, did it become okay to sample your daughter on a track? Yeah I’m looking at you too, Weezy and Eminem - well at the very least they can’t remember or want to dismember their respective other halves (quarters, eighths, pints).
Oh really, Jay-Z, you got that hot bitch in your home? Do you know how many hot bitches Kanye West owns? ...More than six, at least.
I swear I’m all for evolution in music. I applaud the Beatles for taking heaps of drugs and rambling about magical sea creatures instead of the miserly reality of love. But what kind of message are we sending to our kids when Jay-Z’s dazzling badasserie has been doused by the bitter, salty tears of monogamy? If we can’t trust Jay-Z, whom can we trust? Is there no sanctity in art? Is there no impassioned struggle to mirror your own abstraction?
The rap game is as much about persona as it is skill. I believe in a certain truth-value in music. Don’t fucking promise me forever and then build a goddamn Versace crib for your child. I grew up with you. You fathered me into the world of sloppy sexual encounters and you taught this bitch to never catch feelings. Talk about role models.
At the very least I can relish retro Jay-Z and shake my own fist, balled over a wooden cane, with pleated blanket wrapped around my angry, bony, and hunched shoulders: “In my day, Jay-Z used to tie it up and take the condom with him - so no bitch could hold him down.” My 30s look to be a frightful place. Damn kids. Damn them all to the purgatory of love. A hopeless place.
Fuck that, bro. Fuck that.
Kgazm | Elite.