Grand Opening. Grand Closing.

All 36 minutes of the album reverberate and affirm these themes and spark in the listener nostalgia, but a call to action: Stop shitting on our women, stop wasting this money, open businesses and make smart investments, take care of the family, be your authentic self, and if nothing else stay the hell away from Becky with the good hair. LOL   

4:44 – Reflections of Ascension

“I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to […]

Building a Legacy: Thanks Hov!

Blue Ivy asks on the 10th and final track, “Legacy.” I loved that this question about money, wealth and what we leave behind comes out of the mouth of a child, the future recipient of that wealth. Jay shows us the importance of having these conversations with our kids from a young age. He knows that many of us grew up knowing very little about money and as children we didn’t feel that we had the right to ask our parents about it.

This is what I heard about money as a child:

How Tidal Got Me: 4:44 and The Story of OJ

I think a semester long course on Jay’s choice of visual narrative, the lyrics, the symbolism, his message about generating wealth in the Black community and how much money has been made off of Black people to generate wealth for Whites could be taught on this track and video right now. There would be a waiting list a mile long to sign up for it.

The credits open to an animated cartoon cotton field  in the style of racist minstrel animation of the 1920s. I noted how close the opening was to Warner Bros cartoons like Bugs Bunny that I used to watch daily as a girl. Jay-Z plays a character called Jay-Bo, a version of Little Black Sambo.

Hip Hop is Dead

Across the landscape of the musical genre of rap we’ve seen huge shifts in the messaging. Shifts that have often lead to the criticism and/or calling out of music for being violent, misogynistic, and riddle with talks of drug use and addiction. We criticize the artist but never the over saturation of a market, controlled almost single handedly by white men and then wonder where are the positive messaging ripe with social consciousness and black pride. 

What They Don’t Know: From the Old School to Our Schools

I envisioned an adolescent Q-Tip sitting in a classroom reciting these rhymes in his head and the ‘they’ he is addressing are his teachers. The specific line where he states, “Raising my hand, teacher says ‘not again’” is so familiar to so many students. Educators are shutting down any enthusiasm students, especially students of color, have for school and for learning. This sounds like an open letter to all of those teachers who really didn’t know his thoughts, his fears, his aspirations, his joys…HIM.