Jay-Z: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered!

Jay Z is probably the only “rap” dude that can get grown men excited.  Now, for what may appear to be obvious reasons, after that statement, I feel the need to interject “no h###.”  Do people even say that anymore?  And not to digress, but I ask, was it ever cool to say anyway?  Last […]

Jay Z is probably the only “rap” dude that can get grown

men excited.  Now, for what may

appear to be obvious reasons, after that statement, I feel the need to interject

“no h###.”  Do people even say that

anymore?  And not to digress, but I

ask, was it ever cool to say anyway? 

Last year, my wife and I had the privilege of witnessing the sold out,

Heart of the City tour when he and Mary J. Blige visited Baltimore.  And on several different occasions

during that day, I recall gleefully saying, “I’m excited!”  Truth be told, I did have an early

afternoon sip of my favorite blended Canadian whisky, but I won’t put my

gleefulness on the drink.  Instead,

I was honestly excited to hear Jay spit his lyrics in person.  You know, “flyer than the piece of paper

bearing my name.  I got hottest

chick in the game, wearing my chain. 

My name is Hov!”


That night wasn’t my first time seeing Jay on tour.  As a matter of fact, I had the

opportunity to see him on two prior occasions.  The first time was probably him at his

best, entertainment wise, and that was during the Hard Knock Life Tour.  It was a Roc-A-Fella, Ruff Ryder

collaboration with special guests Method Man and Redman.  That show was bananas.  Anyone who was there would concur and if

you were unable to bare witness yourself, I suggest you go rent the movie



The second time I saw Jay was when he toured with R.

Kelly.  I believe that tour was

billed “The Best of Both Worlds.”  I

must admit, the CD was and still is incredible.  I think their plan to record and then

tour together had the potential to be monumental; however, we all know the

outcome.  For reasons never

mentioned (wink), Jay and Kels didn’t hit the stage together until an hour after

the scheduled time.  Still, the show

itself was amazing.  And once again,

Jay did him.  That was during the

time when he rapped, “it’s not even close, just leave it alone.  I’m Michael Jordan, I play for the team

I own.”  Hey, I was impressed then

and I’m even more impressed now.


In preparation for the Blueprint 3 experience, initially

scheduled to drop on Friday September 11, 2009, I recalled all of my Jay

moments, which culminated with me being in attendance at his sold out show last

night at the First Mariner Arena. 

Before purchasing the BP3, I first viewed my copy of Backstage, which I

own on VHS. As I watched the tape, I rejoiced in my memories of seeing the

actual live show.  I also wondered

if the Muslim brother who killed the cipher that Jay and DMX had going on

backstage, as seen in the video footage, ever got signed.  He was nice!  That night in the spring of 1999, Red

and Meth were dangling from the rafters above the crowd performing How High,

Beanie Sigel was introduced to us spitting acapella to an attentive and

astonished crowd, we heard the growl and bark of DMX and saw him stand toe to

toe with Jay.  And Jay, well

hindsight shows now that he was just getting started.    In preparation for the

Blueprint 3 experience, I also listened to the first and second Blueprint’s

remembering my favorites and recalling what I was doing during the times those

songs were played in heavy rotation. 

And as I watched his Madison Square Garden performance on FUSE, I wore my do

rag (just because), which my wife found to be hilarious.  Needless to say, I’m a Jay Z



Last night’s performance was immaculate.  I stood on my feet for more than ninety

minutes with a crowd of roughly 14,000 people.  I sung along to countless hits.  I two stepped and brushed my shoulders

off.  And in the midst of it all, I

had an epiphany.  As I watched Jay

Z’s influence on the crowd, which ranged in ages from 3 on up (yup a 3 year old

got on stage and put the Roc sign in the air), with representations of all

different ethnicities, I admitted for the first time, that he is the greatest

rapper of all time.  That was hard

for me to say, because up until then, I always professed Tupac to be the

G.O.A.T.  So in my comparison of Jay

to Pac, I concluded that I was fond of Tupac because he spoke to my youthful and

rebellious spirit.  Tupac captured

and voiced feelings that I could relate to as a young man, minus the

responsibilities that I have now as an adult.  That’s not to say that Jay Z did not

voice relatable experiences when he initially debuted as a Roc-A-Fella artist,

but to Jay’s advantage we’ve had thirteen years to grow together, and as I then

related to Tupac as a child, I now relate to Jay Z as a man.     


I think it’s ludicrous for an artist like Gucci Mane to

say Jay Z isn’t the best.  Then

again, no it’s not.  Maybe it’s

bothersome knowing that if Gucci Mane is saying that Jay isn’t the best, the

thought of who he may suggest is better, which I honestly hope isn’t himself, is

offensive.  Allow me to also add

that I don’t think Baby was serious when he most recently said Lil Wayne was

better than Jay Z because “he does the most and make the most money.”  If he was serious, then in the voice of

Ed Lover, facial expression intact I must say, “C’mon Son.  Get the f### out of here!” 


In addition to being lyrical and the fact that he’s been

successful on all levels, he has debuted eleven number one albums, surpassing

Elvis Pressley.  But probably more

important than anything else to me is what Jay Z embodies, which is the essence

of young men raised in inner city America.  We shared the same experiences.  We were dealt similar hands and faced

the same obstacles.  Many of us

became statistics and fell victim to societal ills, but there were a few who

successfully managed.  Jay Z

obviously was one who succeeded and was intelligent and creative enough to

lyrically convey his pathway to success, with the hope that his message would

somehow inspire those of us who thought his level of success was impossible and

unattainable.  Thanks Jay for

showing us that it’s not. 


Oftentimes, BIG and Tupac are the only two MC’s that we

place slightly ahead of Jay in argument, which is unfortunate in his case

because how can one compete against nostalgia?  Honestly, their body of work is

incomparable to Jay Z’s.  Real talk,

it’s like comparing apples to oranges. 

Feel me on this:  I was

raised in a town where the best basketball playground legend ever will always be

Skip Wise.  I’ve been around people

who have vehemently told me that if Skip Wise would have made it in the league,

he would have been better than Michael Jordan.  I’m certain that most people would say

that we can’t intelligently make that argument simply because we’re comparing an

if to an is; a what would have been to a what was.  With that being said, consider what

we’re doing when we compare Jay Z to BIG and Pac.  We’re

comparing new material to old material. 

We’re comparing growth to something that’s infertile.  We’re comparing life and death, a person

to a corpse.  We’re comparing what

we think, to what we know.  So, for

myself, from this day forward, it’s no longer what Pac meant to me, instead it’s

what Jay Z means to me. 


Hands down, he has accomplished what he intended to

do.  He came, he saw, and he

conquered.  So as he says in the

chorus of Everyday a Star is Born, “clap for him.”