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Jay-Z & Timbaland »

What do you get when you take the greatest living rapper and the greatest hip hip producer. You get one hot album. Sign the petition and lets make it happen.

by kenn on 3/08/2005 11:02:00 PM

Jay-Z has 99 problems, that's for sure


It is with a heavy heart that I come to my readers today. My flirtation with fame has come to a close, and beginning next quarter faithful readers of The Post will no longer see my bright -but not smiling -face on Tuesdays. Despite the feeling of emptiness that consumes me as I write this column, I must press on and meet the expectations of the die-hard razor fans out there.

For the readers that have not killed off all of his or her brain cells, you might remember a statement I made in a point/counterpoint argument last quarter. In it, I debated the validity of "mash-ups" as artistic expression, which they are still not, and I also alluded to Jay-Z's blasphemous and overrated existence as the steward to rap's throne. Today is the perfect time to elaborate on that assertion.

Jay-Z, by his own claim, has 99 problems and I could call attention to each one, but in the interest of expediency I will address only the most egregious of those problems. First, the only reason that Jay-Z ever ascended to the top slot in rap music is because the industry was devoid of competition. At the time Jay-Z made a name for himself, the biggest stars of rap music were either killed or missing in action: Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. had been murdered, DMX and Nas went off to pursue a movie careers, and Eminem was still struggling to break into the industry. Any status that Jay-Z achieved was not because he earned it, but rather because the fans of rap music were craving anyone to pick up the king's mic. Just remember that even Master P laid claim to rap's throne in the wake of 2Pac's and Biggie Smalls' deaths, so that shows just how easy it was for anyone to claim the throne in that era of zero competition.

The second reason that Jay-Z is overrated can be clearly observed when listening to any of his albums. His flow is often delivered at a snail's pace and his rhymes are simplistic at best. Consider a line from Jay-Z's verse on Kanye West's song, "Never Let Me Down." "First I snatched the streets, than I snatched the charts, first I had their ear, now I have their heart. Rappers came and went, I been here from the start ... ." Wow -an exercise in how to rhyme words if you have no skill. Shocking, isn't it? Jay-Z actually realized that "chart" and "heart" rhymed. That appearance on West's album demonstrates that Jay-Z is not creative, nor does he possess the skills to rap with a feverish pace. Further, if the avid rap aficionado listens to Jay-Z's body of work, he or she would realize that only rarely does Jay-Z have a creative, flawless rap. But hey, even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes.

The third problem that plagues Jay-Z is probably more embarrassing than any other of his 99 problems. It never fails that any time Jay-Z has another rapper featured on one of his songs, the guest star makes Jay-Z look amateurish. DMX revealed Jay-Z's flaws in the song "Money, Cash, Hos," Eminem followed suit on the song "Renegade," and most embarrassing was when Ja Rule had a better rhyme than Jay-Z on the song "Can I get a ...." Granted, DMX and Eminem are talented rappers, but to be shown up by Ja Rule, now that is just sad. Along the same lines of Jay-Z's impotent rhymes is his selection of song topics. It is hard for this writer to see the artistic merit of songs like "Girls, Girls, Girls" or "Excuse me Miss." I understand that not every song is going to be a pearl of wisdom, but these -and many other Jay-Z songs -are just poorly done and simply an exercise in writing music for the pop charts.

Finally, Jay-Z's existence is blasphemous to rap music because he shamelessly prostitutes himself just for a profit. I'm sure Jay-Z is a brilliant businessman, like Sean "Puffy" Combs -I will never call him P. Diddy -but I don't want to buy Jay-Z's clothes, new Reebok shoes or his vodka. Jay-Z does have 99 problems -which is just about the number of rappers who are better than him: Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Twista, Biggie Smalls, 2Pac, Eminem, Method Man, Black Thought ... you get the drift.

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