Jigga, What?

Alyssa Rosenberg was kind enough to invite me to guest-blog this week over at her eponymously titled site. Because I’m interested in world domination, grateful for the opportunity and a glutton for punishment, I accepted her offer.

My first post just went up over there, where I attempt to digest and contextualize the disaster that was Jay-Z’s set on “Saturday Night Live.” Here’s a sample:

I truly can’t fathom Jay-Z recording this song in a studio somewhere, listening to the finished product and thinking that, ‘hey, that’s actually alright.” Let alone, “wow, that could be a hit!”

I don’t care that he dedicated the performance to “the most incredible Betty White”: Jay-Z was bad, Mr. Hudson was worse, and the song itself is prom night-quality pablum.

And of course, I never saw this coming.

If Jigga was alive, he never would have allowed that song to happen. Can you imagine Shawn Carter giving the thumbs-up to “Young Forever”? Blueprint-era Hov would have laughed that track out of his studio session.

But not anymore. And that’s when you know it’s near the end for your favorite artists.

Try to bear with me. Read the post in full. Comment over there and then back over here, if you’re so moved.

And of course, this is the lead-in for my eventual full-throated defense of Beyonce and her substantial talent in the face of the peanut gallery. You’ve been warned, home skillet.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • I’m glad you’re comin round to the fact that Jay is wack Black!

    ..but please don’t spoil it by defending Ms. Pacman, please. 😀

    • blackink

      Hey, I ain’t going that far. But his toes are on the edge of Fall Off Cliff.

      And oh, best believe I got love for Bey. Houston stand up!

  • Steve

    that’s actually one of the few songs I LIKED off blueprint 3..


  • Good lord, that song is terrible.

  • It was a horsesh*t performance from a man who did some serious overthinking before settling on that song. I bet questlove texted him and said, “didn’t i teach you better than that?”

  • Val

    Takes my seat in the peanut gallery. :-)

    • LOL. of course.

    • I’ve been meaning to ask: what is your beef with the Yonce? you go hard, bending over backwards to lick shots at her in posts that have nothing to do with her. what’s that about?

      • Val

        Well, G.D. there are several reasons. First, she’s a really marginal singer. Not that we would know that since she almost never actually sings when she performs. On the positive, she’s an amazing lip-syncer.

        Second, I also really have a problem with her marrying a guy who makes his living calling/ referring to Black people as “niggas” and Black women as “Bitches” and “hoes”.

        Third, she’s waaaaaay over-exposed. She’s everywhere all of the time. I really just get sick of seeing her.

        Fourth, she tries to act. Beyonce should never, ever, ever try to act again! And she’s delusional since she actually believes she has a chance at winning an Oscar for acting.

        Okay is that enough?

        • R.A.B.

          So, women should never date rappers. Rappers should never get to date anyone. But then who would get to be the best that Drake’s ever had?

          • Val

            Misogynists get married/ date all of the time. That doesn’t mean they can’t be called out for what they are or that the women in their lives can’t be called out for being with them.

        • Scipio Africanus

          She hasn’t taken 9 months off in the last 12 years. She’s been u-fucking-biquitous since I was a freshman in college. She *has* to be tired. I wouldn’t be syrprised if at the 15 year mark, or when her looks start to break a little, she just quits and says “fuck all y’all – SWITCH” like Ice Cube, has a couple of babies and disappears forever on some J.D. Salinger.

        • First, she’s a really marginal singer. Not that we would know that since she almost never actually sings when she performs. On the positive, she’s an amazing lip-syncer.

          Listen, you ain’t gotta like her or her music. But you ain’t gotta lie to make your point, either.

          marginal singer, my ass.

          (I won’t touch the “niggas”/”bitches”/”hoes” thing. It’s too early.)

          • R.A.B.

            If Jay weren’t dating Beyonce, his popularity among I-Only-Listen-To-Real-Hip-Hop heads would rocket into the stratosphere.

          • Val

            Come on, G.D. you must know they don’t allow singers to perform the National Anthem live anymore. It’s recorded and the singer lip-syncs at the game.

            You’re making my point for me.

            • let’s assume this is true: that’s still her voice, isn’t it?

              (if B is a marginal singer, who would you consider a strong one?)

              • Val

                Yeah, it’s still her voice but it’s a recording of her voice which means the studio wizards have had a chance to make it presentable.

                I think Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Laura Izibor are examples of singers who can actually sing.

                • Don’t think anyone would say Ms. Jill Scott is a marginal singer and Beyonce does a more than acceptable rendition of Scott’s “He Loves Me.” Or even better her take on Etta James’s “At Last.” Not saying she’s ‘Retha, but the girl is more than just an extremely pretty face.

                • are you really saying that Mariah and Xtina never have their voices digitally corrected?

                  • Val

                    I’m sure they have but that wasn’t what you asked. You asked who I thought were strong singers and the three that I mentioned are.

                    I doubt that you will find any popular singer whose voice doesn’t get some work in the studio but I’ve heard the three that I mentioned sing live and they are really good singers.

                    But has anyone really ever heard Mrs. Marcy Projects sing live?

                    • i dunno. this seems like you’re fishing into the hate reservoir here.

                      I’m not even a fan of B like that, but you gotta give props where they’re due. She’s no vocal slouch.

                • R.A.B.

                  I’ve never in my life thought, “I wish Beyonce were more like Mariah Carey…”

  • Steez

    And here I was thinking it was the last gasp of Mr. Hudson’s career.

    • Hilarious. I kind of dig the racial role-reversal though. Typically white artists would bring in a “soulful” black artist to give their tunes “authenticity” and it seems those of hip hop’s New Wave (clean production marked by a heavy use of synthesized instrumentation, metrosexual overtones) are doing the same (instead of B.B. King it’s Coldplay).

      Whereas the white artists wanted to accentuate their tracks with a gritty blues vibe some contemporary hip hop artists inject a bit of that refined European sensibility that no-doubt insures their music will be played inside trendy international clothing stores. Not knocking the hustle…it’s just evolution.

  • distance88

    “Jay wouldn’t have been around in ’88.” -Tracy Morgan

    • R.A.B.

      Yeah, but what does that mean?

      • distance88

        It basically means a) I’m old and b) despite his talent and success, a lot of people have a hard time putting Jay in the Top 5 or even Top 10 emcees…covering an Alphaville (!) song just slams that point home.

  • R.A.B.

    Look, the problem is largely that people confuse artists with their fans. Jay pens that Jackie Robinson line, but he’s a sucker MC because 90% of his fans heard that verse in a club. Nas writes some dumb ass line about John D. Rockefeller having died from AIDS (wtf?), but he’s smart because 90% of his fans think they remember who John D. Rockefeller was.

    I just think that people who are seriously contesting that Jay’s run out of smart, dope verses isn’t listening to his music beyond the beats.

  • R.A.B.

    *seriously contending