Let’s hope Kevin Durant and Robinson Cano learn a lesson from "Magna Carta Holy Grail", Jay-Z’s latest CD.
Let’s hope they notice that the CEO of Roc Nation Sports did not seek 16 or eight bars from King James, Black Mamba, Melo or Birdman. You also won’t find CP3, The Truth or AK47 on any hooks on "Magna Carta". There are no beats from Captain Jack, Metta World Peace or Mr. Big Shot.
Nope. When Jay-Z makes an album, when he does anything involving the music career that made him rich and famous, he only works with the best and brightest from the music industry. Only the most accomplished and skilled need apply.
Let’s hope Durant and Cano are paying attention, taking notes and analyzing their agent’s brilliance.
They should not be surprised that Justin Timberlake’s voice is the first you hear on "Magna Carta". J.T. is the holy grail of pop music. Nor should they be surprised to learn that Beyonce, Rick Ross, Timbaland and Pharrell Williams worked on "Magna Carta". They are the holy grail of R&B, gangsta rap and beats, respectively.
Jay-Z is the holy grail of n*gga rap, the proper name for the genre of music that made Shawn Carter one of our president’s best friends. Oh, I’m sure that’s upsetting and disconcerting for some of you to read. You’d prefer I label the Jigga Man a gangsta rapper. He isn’t. He’s a n*gga rapper. Listen to his music.
On the opening track of "Magna Carta", a song dominated by Timberlake’s singing, Jay-Z pops in just enough to rattle off "n*gga" eight times. He’s perfected the art form of repeatedly saying the N-word over slickly produced musical beats while telling stories about fame, fortune, family and a former life of crime.
Jay-Z’s music is a "Cosby Show"-"New Jack City"-"MTV Cribs" mashup narrated by "Django Unchained" house slave Stephen.
Jay-Z’s success and his exalted status in the black community speak to the power of our self-hatred, delusional ignorance and unwillingness to learn from our history.
There’s always been a comfy bed, a pretty belly-warmer and a bright spotlight at the big house for the black performer willing to entertain the masses with n*gga tales.
Jay-Z is not slang for Jesus. Hova is no one’s savior. He’s a new-millennium Stephen. He’s highly compensated to spin catchy fairy tales that promote the self-destructive notion that the path out of black American poverty and into the American Dream is through the drug trade and criminality.
Our political system — on the right and left — is so bankrupt of ethics that President Obama has zero shame about embracing the king of black-denigration music.
And neither do Kevin Durant and Robinson Cano.
They’re kids who have swallowed mass-media propaganda. They’re no more or less gullible than the American adults who swallowed the propaganda about home ownership at the beginning of this century.
Jay-Z is the cure for everything. He’s cracked the code. Of course, the king of rap music is the ideal candidate to represent black athletes. It’s really too bad Michael Jackson passed away before we realized musical geniuses could parlay their talents and expertise into other industries.
The Gloved One and Hova could’ve combined to open a sports agency and a string of barbershops, beauty salons and soul-food kitchens.
Or maybe Durant, Cano and other athletes will pick up "Magna Carta Holy Grail" and realize what Jay-Z won’t tell them: When you’re blessed with talent, it’s best that you stay in your lane and align yourself with talented people in your field.
Jay-Z isn’t asking basketball or baseball players to help him create rap music. He’s paying musicians to do it. Universal Music Group and The Island Def Jam Music Group help promote and distribute Roc-A-Fella Records, not ESPN or FOX Sports.
The marriage of Jay-Z to the sports world is idiotic.
Selling athletic competition and selling music are two distinctly different disciplines. Sports are founded in traditional, mainstream American values. Music, particularly rap and rock, is founded in rebellion and anti-establishment values.
Jay-Z’s sensibilities do not comfortably co-exist with the sensibilities that best promote athletic culture. The NBA’s headfirst embrace of hip-hop music is one of the main reasons the league has lost relevancy the last 15 years. Blaming it all on the aging and retirement of Michael Jordan and/or the Pistons-Pacers brawl at The Palace is intellectually lazy and David Stern-friendly propaganda.
LeBron James is as compelling an athlete America has produced since Muhammad Ali. James’ rise is a far superior story to Michael Jordan’s. James is Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson in one 6-foot-8, 250-pound, slam-dunking package.
On symbolic, real and intangible levels, the NBA’s values are more closely aligned with the rebellious and individualistic characteristics of music than the patriotic characteristics of sports. That’s why LeBron doesn’t connect the way Jordan did and does. That’s why basketball can’t compete with football despite basketball being the sport that every American boy or girl plays at least once in their lives. Everyone understands and can relate to basketball. It should rival football in popularity.
It is not a coincidence that Jay-Z is having the most difficulty getting certified as an NFL agent. Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, Roger Goodell and the league’s television partners have worked diligently to make football as American as mom and apple pie.
Jay-Z has worked diligently to make n*gga rap as unwittingly self-destructive and seductive as possible.
Despite its reliance on young African-American athletes, the NFL has made the wise business choice of keeping some significant distance between itself and the youth music culture enthusiastically consumed and followed by many of its young employees.
Unless Durant and Cano plan to moonlight as rappers, Jay-Z has nothing of value to offer them or the sports world. His marketing genius and innovation are myths.
Fiddler, in the TV miniseries "Roots", educated black folks on the rewards of bojangling 300 years ago. He and his banjo are still the holy grail of n*gga music.