Filed under: BK All Day,Features,Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Jay-Z is the most influential rapper of the past ten years, but I only own one of his records. Have I failed as a rap fan, or is Jay just not that incredible? Looking back, we weren’t off to the best of starts as far as the artist/listener relationship is concerned. While he did his thing on a few tracks with The Jaz (‘It’s That Simple’ and ‘The Originators’), he fell flat when he jumped on a track from Big L‘s debut with a not yet refined technique. ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘Ain’t No Nigga’ were ill, but the whole Champagne Rap feel to much of Reasonable Doubt took the shine off it, despite some exceptional moments such as ‘Regrets’. Raised on LL Cool J and T La Rock, Jay’s whiny vocal tones lacked the punch that my ear expected from an MC, although his wit and sarcasm impressed nevertheless. As he courted Pop Life with his Timbaland, Neptunes and Swizz Beats records, I had even less reason to pay attention, despite Jay throwing the hardcore crowd the occasional DJ Premier-produced Scooby snack.
I pretty much missed the whole Blueprint revolution as well, although I enjoyed the declaration of supremacy that is ‘The Takeover’, which is a powerhouse compared to the wimpy musical backing of ‘Ether’. The song that finally got me to lay down cash to cop vinyl was, predictably, ’99 Problems’ (aka every white kid’s favorite Jay-Z record). ‘Big Beat’ + Guitar Stabs + Ice-T hook + strong vocal performance = Unkut Approved. ‘Dear Summer’ and ‘Success’ are some other superior Jay-Z moments, but he’s never hit me the way that Kool G Rap made an impact with ‘Men At Work’ or ‘Streets of New York’. There’s nothing on his Unplugged session that knocks as hard as Big Daddy performing ‘Wrath of Kane’ at the Apollo. A Jay-Z record never had the impact that listening to Rakim’s ‘Follow The Leader’ had the first time I threw it on the turntable after I racked it from the record store. The fact that I’m not as young and easily impressed as I might have been back then has nothing to do with it – there are still tracks today that hit make me wanna break something (P Brothers ‘Blam Blam For Nottingham’ and Roc Marciano‘s ‘Snow’ being two examples). What did I miss?
Now that he’s making bored Millionaire Rap for wanna-be millionaire’s to listen to, there’s little hope that Jay-Z will ever convert me to his legion of Stans. It would be easy jump to the conclusion that I must be some angry backpacker, but no dice. I have even less regard for Vegetarian Rap than I do for the Champagne variety…actually, it’s White Wine Rap now, isn’t it? How could I have missed it before – that’s my whole issue! As whiskey-with-a-beer-chaser type of drinker, there was never a hope in high hell that I would ever enjoy extended bouts of Champagne or Wine Rap. It’s like oil and water – that shit just doesn’t mix. You know who fucks with beer and scotch? M.O.P. No wonder I’ve bought everything they’ve ever released – they know how to drink.
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