The best part about summer is that there is always new music releasing almost week by week from different artists. This summer in particular has been one of the best summers for music especially because a legend (an icon, a mogul, and majority of the world’s top 5) by the name of Jay-Z delivered a special project to the world that actually made us anxious for the release and even more pressed to blast it on our home-girl or boy’s aux cord.
Last Friday, Jay-Z’s 13th studio album entitled 4:44 released to the world and social media went crazy. From the Tidal account swapping to trying to get Sprint’s free Tidal stream, you did what you had to do in order to hear the legend’s delivery of 2017. While many were bumping the album and finessing to hear the ten tracks, the lyricism and visual to one song in particular not only sparked our ears but our minds and conversations. This song goes by “The Story of OJ”. So what makes this song one of the best you ask ? He gave us a million dollar message for the price of only $9.99.
First and foremost, we have to recognize the sample of this song. As soon as you press play, you hear the iconic voice of singer and Civil Rights activist Nina Simone from her popularly played song “Four Women” which is just iconic in itself due to the fact that it was made in 1965 and features her saying “my skin is black” that embraced people of color to stride with pride , declare selfishly, and love who they are. If the chorus from Ms. Simone didn’t have you lit all the way through, perhaps the visual had you shook with the rest of us.
If you’re familiar with the cartoons from back in the day (like the Betty Boop days) , perhaps this visual looked familiar to you. If you’re not familiar, then ill break down why the usage of this cartoon within Jay-Z’s narrative was pure icing on the cake. Back in the day as in the era of the 30’s and 40’s , the representation of people of color were almost depicted as a joke from the overly emphasized features of black to the way they talked. One cartoon that looks closely similar to the animation of the video goes by the cartoon name of Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat . This cartoon was supposedly a satire for black people but this wasn’t the cartoon you could laugh at but more so insulting that black people played the role of being the joke.
Please please please, especially our black kings reading, go watch 'Footnotes for the Story of OJ'.
Riveting POVs. pic.twitter.com/12f21z6zui
— Cherif Gueye (@RIFstradamus) July 4, 2017
In Jay-Z ‘s visual however, he took that joke and turned it into his own narrative that majority of people of color share. It doesn’t matter how you sell yourself(which you can kind of catch on to when you see the for sale sign in the video) to the world , you cant run from an identity that everyone sees you for at the end of the day ( (“rich n*gga, poor n*gga, house n*gga, field n*gga, still a n*gga”). At the end of the day whether you’re the next Tommie Smith (a black icon from the Olympics that he depicted in the video) or the next Jay-Z, you have to know yourself. What Jay-Z teaches us is that no matter how much they wanna sell our talents and our character, we can never be a sell-out (hence the commentary of OJ). Jay-Z basically tells us that we need to be our own hustlers and own up to the magic that we truly are.We don’t have to show out and sell everybody what we have to offer, being a person of color is a privilege and priceless, meaning we cannot be bought by those who only see us as property. We don’t have to place money by our ear on the gram to show that we’re wealthy.
We don’t have to throw thousands of dollars in the strip club to show status. We don’t have to be what everyone wants us to be . We have to embrace our own definition of excellence without price tags and endorsements from those who want to capitalize off of us . In Jay-Z ‘s recent release of footnotes for the song, Chris Rock stated “fame is the greatest gift God can give a black man”. Once you have fame and success, you may think there isn’t a stigma people connect you to but the truth is , you will always contribute to their sight before you ever contribute to their faith.
We can no longer be capitalized by those who only want us to fail. We must become the narrators of our own success and magic. Don’t cheat your own community by selling out and forgetting where you came from to have “success”. Be the difference by investing in one other and embracing what many told you that you couldn’t be , greatness. Never get to a place where you separate from the culture and think that it’s making a difference while everyone else has tp play defense. Get to a place where we can come together so we can have everlasting support, endless impact, and the option of being on offense.