Thursday, August 08, 2013

His Presence is Charity

I put dollars on mine, ask Columbine /
When the Twin Towers dropped, I was the first in line.
Donating proceeds off every ticket sold /
When I was out on the road, that’s how you judge Hov, no?

Jay-Z is taking quite a bashing these days over his recent dust up with civil rights legend Harry Belafonte, especially after his flippant “my presence is charity” remark in reaction to Belafonte’s request for a heart to heart with Hov to squash the beef. Well here’s my response on his behalf, going out to all of you armchair activist types taking shots at one of the greatest rappers to ever live: quite simply, I think you all need to step off your high horses...

What you guys fail to acknowledge is that Jay-Z has already given us all a great deal due to his stunning contributions to hip hop music and culture. He performs this amazing art form at its highest possible level and in so doing provides us with priceless value.

Picasso Baby. Watch the video. It’s performance art. It’s magnificent. It’s inspirational. It makes me and a whole generation of project kids want to strive for new heights. Watching Jay-Z own the Pace Gallery is all the proof we need to understand that talent plus hard work can take us to the farthest reaches of the earth.

That’s the gift from Jay-Z. Thus his presence is indeed charity. You can deny it if you want, but that does not make it untrue. To dismiss his accomplishments or somehow imply that his success has come at our culture’s expense is a travesty. If you can dismiss Jay-Z so easily then you dismiss this entire culture that we’ve created.

“And if you can’t respect that your whole perspective is whack”

But let me get back to Mr. Belafonte. Do you guys really not see the role he played in triggering Jay-Z’s bitter response? I can tell you right now that if someone aims a camera at you and you decide to take that as an opportunity to disrespect me and my family -- ”yeah, look at Lamont and Michelle, they’re not doing anything to support the South Orange / Maplewood community” -- then you should expect nothing but venom in response from me. You want me to do more? Then call me up man to man, don’t put me on blast in the media. Jay-Z is an intelligent middle-aged man who does not deserve to be chastised in front of the world by anybody. Not even Harry Belafonte. 

“The purest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous / We gon’ make it there. I promise this”

The thing is, if you had actually listened to “Nickels and Dimes” then you would know that it’s a song about struggling with the very notion of giving back. Jay-Z reflects on coming to terms with his survivor’s guilt. He gives and he gives but it’s never enough is it? He wants to give anonymously without having to send a press release every time he helps an old lady across the street. He wants to feel good about himself while enjoying the spoils of his success. And in the midst of trying to figure this thing out, HB comes along to call him out in the media?

“I’m just trying to find common ground / But Mr. Belafonte wanna chop a n*gg$ down”

What about the clean water for Africa project for which he was awarded a UN Global Leadership Award for Humanitarianism? What about the seven figures he gave to Katrina victims, or the song he recorded as part of his support of Haiti, or the millions of dollars in educational support he’s given as part of the Shaun Carter Foundation. I could go on, but you get the point, a simple Google search from any of you humanitarians would have shown that Jay-Z has done anything but turn his back on his people.  In fact the opposite is true, he's made good on his promise from “Moment of Clarity”:

“I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them / So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win win”.

It seems as if Mr. Belafonte doesn't really know Jay-Z, and didn’t make an effort to get to know him. He has no idea what Jay-Z has done or what his plans for the future are (after all, he’s got 43 more years to go before he’s as old as Belafonte).

Can’t you guys see how infuriating it is when someone accuses you of something that is the very opposite of what you are about? Or are you all so anxious to jump on your soap boxes that you buy into the stereotype that every successful rapper must be some sort of new money idiot who doesn’t know any better than to brag about his phat gold ropes? Is it really so enticing to lump Jay-Z in with the 2 Chainz and Chief Keefs of the world? Too bad those tap dancing Negroes can’t be more like The Boss right?

Whatever, it doesn’t matter what you think. Jay-Z gave me Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album and American Gangster and Picasso Baby. As far as I’m concerned, that’s plenty.


Randy Grant said...

Strangรจ my brother ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
Very well said.

Quick question:
Am I the only one who never heard of Tom Ford before this song ? Which by the way I think is corny.
I actually went and did a google search to found out :)

Bugatti..Maybach..drop top coup..Tom Ford...Versace wear....Picaso

Once jokers start rapping about stuff I can't afford I'm no longer interested.
Tonight when I'm driving to work I'll be bumping a song in my ride that talks about something I can afford....My Adidas :)

Guka said...

Allow me this volley.

I stand and applaud (clap..clap..clap) Dude can rhyme. Top 5 all time. Maybe. Dude is successful...he knows how to skim his off the top Probably the richest rapper ever. Kudos. He undoubtedly donates part of his pre-tax earnings to causes he supports. Both publicly and privately. Thanks J, good looking out. But let's not confuse ourselves into thinking he is more than what he is. Ordinary. Dude's day job is to market & promote unapologetic niggerdom. He may package it from time to time with illusive catch phrases but ultimately his effect is no different from many of the other rappers who's lyrics are filled with bugatti..maybach..drop top coup..tom ford...versace wear....picaso baby or whatever happens to be the latest foolniggardry.

That shit aint inspirational nor transformational. It's TRAP music. Literally.

The music industry has known since NWA. Music that uplifts the people can be solid gold. This other stuff....well that's just platinum.

Since then we've witnessed the selling out of the culture by the paper chasers. Those that would portray themselves as homicidal, misogynistic, narcotics trafficking materialists on wax. Fakers. All for the love of money. All for the world to hear, consume and shake to. I'm not mad at brah. I can dance to Jigga my Nigga. I'm just not confused.

Don't pee on my head, tell me it's raining, and then hand me an umbrella. Thinking it's all good. Stop peeing on my head.

Dead Prez is inspirational. Yassin Bey is inspirational....can even wrap about a fat ass in a non sexist manner.

HB isn't a saint. He's an activist. He's used his craft and his resources to move the peoples plight forward. He takes his social responsibility seriously. It's what drives him

Jay uses his craft to make himself rich first and foremost. And then gives a portion back. Better than most. But what if for every life he saves through his presence aka charity, 10,000 are destroyed emulating him and the other paper chasers.

Most folks can't see beyond their grind for Food Clothing & Shelter. They're what we used to call 85ers. He's still on that grind. Donating a little excess doesn't pay the external costs. HB isn't a saint. But anyone versed in our history knows his sacrifice. Personal, financial, & physical sacrifice. He's earned his stripes. The two men can't go mano a mano.

They aren't equals.

I put Jay & Kanye, in the same category. RWSKB. Rappers Who Should Know Better.

"I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars. They criticized me for it, yet they all yell holla. If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be lyrically Talib Kweli, Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense, but I did 5 Mill - I ain't been rhyming like Common since"

He knows better.

What has Jay given back to the community? You say plenty. I believe you. But ask yourself, what has he GIVEN UP for the community. Or conversely has he sacrificed the community in order to get his.

I think it's more the latter. And I'm still not mad.

Just not confused.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to speak to HOV's work like Guka, because hip hop content is not my thing. So you know where I'm coming from, my life of not being a fan of poetry, and thus the words of a rapper, probably started in junior high; before rap music and hip hop came on the scene. We had to read and interpret the poem Kubla Khan. To me it starts of bad and gets worse.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round . . .

And it goes on and on and on and on! None of it made sense to me. Later I learned that the poem may be an incomplete work and the guy who wrote it was high on opium at the time. As a consequence of this trauma, I don’t find interpreting poems worth my time. So I’m not the guy who looks to music words for life inspirations. Most of the time I see the purpose of music as something to make my head bob! I’ll know some and maybe a lot of the words (just like I remember the first two lines of Kubla Khan; I looked up the rest), but the point the artist is trying to make has almost zero significance in my life. My inspiration comes from actions and the actual work of real people. I was fortunate to have a father who was a living inspiration to me. I was lucky that I didn’t have to look to celebrities.

What does this have to do with the HOV Harry beef? It’s just a long way to say that the 8 or so references to details of HOV’s lyrics and work are a non-factor! We all know that artists make shit up to sell records. We have no idea what is and isn’t true. What is and isn’t what they believe. “The purest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous”. That’s for us regular people who actually live life anonymously. HOV is a known person. In fact, his “. . . presence is charity”! How is that anonymous giving? Unlike Guka, I am confused. But I was glad to see you didn’t solely use lyrics to support your position and referenced actual actions.

I give Harry a pass because of who he is and what he has actually done. Money aside, if you look at their biographies, HOV has a long long way to go to enter the air of Harry Belafonte. Even if Harry’s approach could have been better, so too could have HOV’s. He’s 40 something, not 18 and I think the opportunity to react was his. But he let the “nigga moment” (Boondocks - Granddad's Fight) engulf him. And Lamont, you have too! “I can tell you right now that if someone aims a camera at you and you decide to take that as an opportunity to disrespect me and my family – ‘yeah, look at Lamont and Michelle, they’re not doing anything to support the South Orange / Maplewood community’ -- then you should expect nothing but venom in response from me.” Really! That’s like fighting or shooting because someone accidentally bumps you on the street. “Nigga moment”! “Can’t you guys see how infuriating it is when someone accuses you of something that is the very opposite of what you are about?” Uh . . . no. I don’t know who said it first but many times I’ve heard the quote “what other people think about you is none of your business”. That especially applies if what they say is not true. In the business world, you may have to do things differently depending upon what people think. But in the day to day, isn’t HOV’s reaction really just a sign of immaturity?