November 9, 2000

Jigga Who Cares?

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You “can’t knock the hustle.” Sorry Jay-Z, but I don’t get it. You are supposed to be one of the best rap artists this decade, and I would say that your impact is extreme. But you are supposed to take time to write your lyrics so that they have soul, so that they have meaning. Was there some sort of rush to get The Dynasty: Roc La Familia 2000 out to stores? I just don’t understand it! Did you give all of your written material away (Dr. Dre, you know who you are!)?

We’ve got Vol. 1, 2, and 3 to revel in, and there are plenty of tracks on Reasonable Doubt to enjoy. But this album was just shy of being as bad as Eminem’s initial rap performances for his friends when he was 17! Again and again, Jay-Z plays on this little girl background voiceover. Okay, we’ll accept the Broadway musical jingles he liked including in his volume series. The use of Beanie Sigel in this album is admirable, but abused: He appears on eight tracks.

Jay-Z’s lyrics on this album are thrown together; I can’t make sense of meaning or feeling. And after all, isn’t that what rap is supposed to be about?

Two tracks, “Soon You’ll Understand,” and “Where Have You Been,” are capable of drawing minimum attention, with a good beat … but, again, his lyrics and his slow delivery overshadow the work. Memphis Bleek, Ja Rule’s main man, raps along on “Parking Lot Pimpin,” and his voice gives that track a little life.

But not once on this album is their any sign of the life needed to make a rap song good. This album has no flow! Jay-Z came back after Vol. 1 with an album that was his best. Tracks moved with rhythm and lyrical sense. This album lacks all of that. It’s a good thing Jay-Z didn’t continue this album as Volume 4. What a disaster that would have been to the entire series.

Shawn Carter, you came from a life of crime, you pulled yourself out of the gutter so that you could change the music scene. You don’t get off the hook with four good albums.

Jay-Z deserves credit for his lyrical talent. He brings music to the scene, that, until now, made new dents in the established structure of hip-hop.

Referring back to Broadway, a topic that Jay-Z loves to touch upon (and usually is successful in utilizing), I stir up a memory of the great words of that loveable warthog from The Lion King. Pumbaa cries out, “Hakuna Matata!” Yeah, well, Mr. Carter, I’ll remember the power and success and the overall good rap you had in your other albums. But if you don’t get rid of the new and bring back the old, you have a lot to worry about.

Archived article by Josh Plotnik