To define Jay-Z is not easy. For those who are new to his music, you view him as a rapper who talks about money, art, clothes, champagne and other worldly material things. And in this culture of Hip-Hop, you would be right. However, to the ones who grew up on his music we see him in a different light. We understand where he came from. We know first hand the dangers of growing up in the Projects, the issues of being raised in a single-parent home and the pitfalls of being in the street life. We heard it all by Jay. What we were waiting for was– 4:44.
When I say we– I mean African-American men and to a lesser extent– Black Boys.
The term may sound racist but there is a difference within our own culture.
Black Boys are the kids running around still living at home. The young men who are being tempted by the allure of the streets, and the ones following the trends these Hip-Hop artist and entertainers set. Black Boys are our future. However, they’re also the ones listening, complaining, doing wrong, and living with regrets. Nowadays were living the life as if we’re still the little Black Boys running the streets, disrespecting women, killing our own parents and not caring about our youth or our future. This is why we needed 4:44.
Jay was that hustler. He was the one disrespecting women. He was the one who grew up in a single-parent home. However, he knew it was time to change from being a Black Boy to an African-American Man. Yes, Hip-Hop helped as it provided him with wealth but it also wasn’t given to him. Most of us who buys his albums are the hustlers and regular 9-5 guys. We hang on to his every word. When Throwback Jerseys were popping– we brought them as if they were going out of style. But Jay-Z said stop– buy button ups– so we did. When cats were in the bar popping bottles of Cristal– Jay said stop– buy Ace of Spades– so we did. When Auto Tunes was controlling the airwaves Jay-Z said don’t listen to that– so we did.
But times have changed or at least Jay-Z has.
He’s married now with 3 kids. He has the wife on his arms that most men lust for. He’s where most men would love to be. Whether you like it or not– he’s a leader. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X led with their words and actions– why is Jay-Z perceived as any different? Is it because it’s done through music? Some in our culture despise his way of style and that’s fine but some of us have learned to look beyond the image– this is what 4:44 done for us.
Jay said to invest in your community instead of tearing it down. Take care of your kids before someone else does. Treat your women with the proper respect before she leaves you for your childish mistakes. Love your parents for who they are and not what they have done. And best of all– be a MAN.
It may have taken 13 albums for him to reach that point but he did. He may have been one of the main reasons why Black Boys act the way they do– but so what. All we have his time and opportunities on our hands while we’re on this earth. It’s up to us to decide what we wish to do with it. Jay-Z has grown and now he’s teaching the Black Boys how to become African-American Men.
Black Boys is a term that’s used to describe us in a derogatory way. It’s time we shed that and show America that we can become who we are supposed to be– Men. Not just any men but strong, powerful African-American Men. The ones who own business, take care of their own, love our wives and protect our future. So what if the message came from a rapper– who else is speaking to the youth?