Some people just don’t know how to quit. Brett Favre, Joe Paterno, and Bobby Brown are just a few people who clearly can’t fathom taking a seat. There are other folks who retire prematurely before they reach their peak. Then there is Jay- Z. To put it crudely, Jay is kicking ass and taking names at the ripe old age of 39. In most professions, 39 is a time where people are still moving up the ladder in their respective fields. In hip hop years 39 is a dinosaur.
It is undeniable that he is at the top of his game. He is the partial owner of an NBA franchise, Former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, Co-owner of the swanky and exclusive 40/40 club, and has won 8 Grammys. But what is even more impressive is that with the recent release of his new album, Blueprint 3, he has surpassed Elvis Presley for most number one albums by a solo artist with 11. Should we coronate him? I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of is that Jay-Z has changed the game. Jay-Z surpassing Elvis is of high importance. Mainly because Elvis became famous for doing covers of songs written and performed by Black artists. At that time record labels wanted a “Black” sound, but not the Black face. Basically Elvis took what Big Mama Thornton earned. So for personal reasons I’m happy to see Jay-Z taking the cape from the “King” and putting it on his back. But also, Jay-Z has helped and arguably ushered in a new way the world looks at hip hop.
For a long time Hip-Hop was an underground form of expression peculiar to urban areas and inner-cities. Today kids in Tokyo and Buenos Aires can rap “99 problems” to you. A veteran of the game, Jay-Z began making a name for himself the days of Big Daddy Kane. Just like hip-hop itself, Jay-z has evolved. The savvy hustler from the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn now pals around with politicians and business magnates. What is the importance of all this? I’m glad you asked. This means that Jay-Z has elevated himself to the point in which he transcends hip-hop. His relationship with President Obama proves this. As the first Black President Obama walked a very tight rope when it came to his cronies. He denounced Ludacris’ song that supported him but pilloried John McCain and Hillary Clinton. But he told the world that he had Jay-Z on his ipod. Furthermore, he had Jay and Beyonce in the VIP section at the inauguration. Obama who knows a lot about being guilty by association clearly finds no problem in being HOVA’s homeboy.
At 39 Jay is clearly just getting revved up. I’m already looking forward to the Blueprint 4. Honestly, even if he never raps a verse again Jay-Z will be an American icon.