I’m shifting this month from my regular blog post of enhancing our inner selves to share a perspective on a song that seems to be going viral, Jay Z’s aka Hova aka Shawn Carter’s new song, The Story of O.J. I hope my followers don’t think of this as me drifting. My aim is to reflect on the importance of a belief system. So maybe it’s not much of a shift after all. What is your belief system? Is it money? Is it sex? Is it power or fame? Well, mine is freedom, and my quest is for you to have a life of happiness and freedom as well. Which brings me to the song, The Story of O.J.
Jay Z has captivated us again with a catchy beat and familiar Disney like cartoon images. If you’ve seen and heard his new song, it’s been said to be a banger, hot, deep, dope and even a sign of both Jay Z’s musical and personal growth. If you’ve followed him you know his words spill out of his mouth with a poetic style arguably second to none. So I don’t question his talent nor his ability to fixate the minds of his fans. The man has truly built an empire and displays all of the images of success. He’s married to one of the most beautiful and talented women to ever captivate our attention. A legend in her own right, Beyoncé Knowles, with their beautiful children and a legacy to leave to them. Some may say he is the epitome of William Ernest-Henley’s, Invictus.
I, however, have struggled with Jay Z’s choice of words in several of his songs. Who can forget his reference to Anna Mae in Drunk in love?. The idea that he felt it was cool or somehow ok to glorify a horrific event of abuse in one of our musical legends lives, Tina Turner, was beyond belief. However, a few years prior he made Moment of Clarity and said this,
“I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars.
They criticized me for it, yet they all yell “holla”
If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mill – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”
And fans went wild though he admittedly tells them he sold them out. So is it fair to say Jay Z has a way with words similar to the preacher made familiar to us in James Baldwin’s, Go tell it on the mountain? You know the preacher who has really given you nothing but insists that your tithing is the way to the kingdom. His pockets get fatter and you are only left with a dumb down message of poetic injustice.
I want to like Jay Z and I want to like his music but as I listen to his new song, The Story of O.J., that people are calling banger, hot, deep, dope and even a sign of both Jay Z’s musical and personal growth, I feel empty. To me, it lacks BELIEF. It takes the negative narrative placed on us by our enemies as its hook. How my enemy views me is as important to me as the president’s latest tweet. JayZ’s subliminal messaging is dropped like only Hova can,
“Imma play the corners where the hustlers be
I told him, “Please don’t die over the neighborhood
That your mama rentin’
Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood
That’s how you rinse it”
But it seems to still only glorify a lifestyle that continues to erode us. I get it. When we lack real opportunity, hustling has been many in this country’s only answer to survival. But it would seem that Jay Z, after years of success and a combined net worth with Beyoncé of over $1 billion dollars, he would offer up a better solution.
You and I are what we believe we are. We climb no higher than our belief system says we will. I see greatness in the people that I meet. Never nigga, dark skin, light skin, rich, or poor. You are the “Captain of your soul”, Never nigga.
This is my BELIEF, freedom.