It wasn’t supposed to go this long. Just one album and back to the streets. That was the plan Jay Z had when it come to this Hip-Hop ish.
Now, as we reflect back on those words, we must think; ” Where would Hip-Hop be if he meant what he spoke”?
I for one truly believe he actually believed he would be one and done. He had no idea how this music business could grab a person’s soul and never let go. To like music is one thing but to love Hip-Hop is entirely different. R&B is love, Rock is addicting and Classical is soothing but Hip-Hop is the essence of one’s life.
When Jay hit the scene Hip-Hop was both lyrical and destructive. At the time New York had lost its grip on rap but with releases by the Notorious Big and Nas, the birthplace was getting their swag back. In 1996, Hip-Hop was changed forever. It wasn’t that Jay’s music was different, it’s because Jay Z himself was different.
He never attacked the game as a rapper. It was more like business moves. Roc-A-Fella Records was created because label heads didn’t see the vision, forcing Jay, Dame Dash, and Kareem Biggs to form their own label. What was seen as a smart move at the time would ultimately become their downfall? Reasonable Doubt didn’t set the world on fire and to be honest, none of Jay’s albums did. But, Jay himself set the blaze with his intellect and groundbreaking moves.
His albums would go on to sell over 55 million World Wide, headlining one of the biggest Hip-Hop Tours, be engaged in the biggest rap battle ever and still have time to pull off the ultimate business move. With R.O.C empire crumbling, Jay took over the company that owned his company, Def Jam. How many rappers have ever pulled off a feat that huge? Jay also had a deal with Reebok for his own S. Carter brand. Once again, how many rappers were doing those types of moves?
What rapper can say they took their relationship with athletes and turned it into a successful business as a sports agent? Or, how can you deny his influence on our culture when Jay told everyone to stop drinking the popular Cristal Champagne and go to Ace of Spades? Or, when he got tired of seeing so many Throwback Jersey’s that he did away with them and forced the culture to wear button up shirts. His influence is bigger than his music.
Jay Z is a great rapper, maybe the best that ever did it but he was always more than that. When some see him they see a Hip-Hop artist, but to others, we see a blueprint to what we can become.
To be continued…