Ah…the power of a pen. One must wield it wisely. After all it is mightier than the sword, according to many a sage.
Which is why most would hesitate to put out a 2 page report based on conspiracy theorist websites and what seems to be a steady supply of cheap hallucinogens. But most of us don’t write for the Daily Nation. Speaking of DN, they had a blurb on last Friday’s installment that boldly stated:
“The line between blasphemy and Art: Rap Icon Jay-Z has his opinion about religion, but then why does he call himself J-Hova?”-Zuqka
First I giggled sarcastically and told Mr. NV that this was obviously a “cover all the bases” blanket statement meant solely to draw readers in. Surely they had to have some sensible article behind this.
It would’ve been nice if they did, but it would also be nice if people didn’t starve, Mosques didn’t get tear gassed and trade centers an embassies didn’t get blown up. What would also be nice, but on a smaller scale is if journalists had the time(or good sense) to research before writing. These were the thoughts running through my mind as I read Njeri’s article on Jay-z, the cult member and self-proclaimed God. I thought about staying quiet, but alas, I love Hip-Hop about as much as I hate bullsh*t so I figured why not kill two birds with a lot of words.
Let’s ignore the fact that we are talking about an entertainer who belongs to a genre based on fictitious hyperbolic fantasies and jump to the “real” issue. Let’s talk about “blasphemy in Hip-Hop”, shall we?
There are several degrees of “blasphemy” in Hip-Hop. Rakim, and many other “old-school” Hip-Hoppers have taken on the suffix “Allah” and/or the prefix “The god”. Wu-tang clan are notorious for that as well. As a matter of fact, one of their members names is “U-God”, capitalized and everything. Another one of their members, ODB (Rest In Peace) repeatedly referred to himself as “Baby Jesus” and Raekwon calls damn near everybody he meets god. Yet all of these are far from blasphemous. Their relationship with God is different. Look up 5 Percentersand the Nation of Gods and Earths. Very interesting fellows. Anyhooo….
Then there’s the people who straddle the fence: artists who portray themselves as angels when they are really child molesters and then have the nerve to put out gospel albums: (ironically, R.Kelly is not the only one that fits that description). Then of course there’s Kanye West and his obsession with being the son of God, and his numerous Jesus themed photo-shoots, videos and even songs. Of course there’s Puff Daddy & DMX who every now and again will converse with God in the middle of an album about abusing wealth and women, and gratuitous servings of sex, drugs, and murder. These aren’t blasphemous either. Like you, they got to church once a week for one hour and the rest of the week they are full-time sinners. No offense intended.
On the far left however, we have artists like Tech 9ne, Immortal Technique or more famously, Nasir Jones. When we were first introduced to Nas in the 80′s and early 90′s, he said he’d snuff baby Jesus and deflower Mary. Later on he also dedicated a whole track to allude that if Virgin Mary had an abortion, he would’ve been the king and “be carried in a chariot with stampeding horsemen.” And that’s just the highlights. Yet, when I met the man 2 years ago, I came to find out that he’s very educated on religious matters. For someone who dropped out of the equivalent of Std. 7, his knowledge of theology is vast. He ended our discourse by saying “I talk about religion because that’s what’s powerful to me. So when I want to evoke power, I speak on religion and elevate myself above it.” Though intelligent, that was blasphemous. That is the line, and that is where you cross it.
So why am I pointing fingers at Njeri and her little piece and just where does Jay-z fit into all this?
I’ll get to Njeri later, but for Jay-z, I say this. Start with Reasonable Doubt, his first album, then work forward. He paints a picture of a child raised with few values who came to learn that his salvation was money. The plight of poverty amidst capitalism and the evils it instills and installs in the mind of a young man destined to succeed and not do wrong. In the track “D’evils”:
“Whoever said illegal was the easy way out, couldn’t understand the mechanics
or the workings of the underworld. Granted,
9 to 5 is how to survive, but I ain’t trying to survive.
I’m trying to live it to the limit and love it. Alive.
Like ills poisoned my body.
I used to say ‘Fuck mic skills.’ I never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti.
That’s right, it’s wicked.
But that’s life, I live it.
I ain’t asking for forgiveness for my sins.”
He finds that it’s not the illegal life, or the rapping, but the money that’ll save him from his misery and his struggles and continues to say:
“It gets dang-er-ous, money and power are changing us.
And now we’re lethal. Infected with the evils.”
That said, I can understand someone who argues that the man decided to put religion lower in the pegging order of things, but to say he has some bond with the occult, based on that is slightly absurd. That’s like saying 50 Cent is a murderer. There’s something about secret societies that leads me to believe that they would be….Hmm…I donno. Secret, maybe? The man’s sold damn near 100 million records worldwide, what part of that invokes “secret”? You know what’s secret: Bilderberg. A group of people, no names, no faces, all meet once a year and all control 90% of the worlds infrastructure, or something nutty of the sort. Secret and scary. They scoff at the money Jay-z thinks he has. Multi-Billionaires who think $100 Billion is something to aspire to, not some measly 10 Billion Kshs.
But Jay-Z? Nah. I’ve seen and met him, nothing special. Just a man who’s dead proud of himself for doing what all of us are probably inwardly jealous of.
“But Con, he calls himself J-Hova…”
And 100 million Central and South Americans call themselves Jesus. Grow a pair. A name only holds as much weight as you put on it.
If you’d like a more sought out explanation try this for size. Hip Hop was founded by a bunch of religiously misguided black folks who constantly used the word “God” to mark supremacy. Hence Grandmaster Flash was the God DJ and Kool Herc was the God MC. Then KRS came through and became the new God MC. So did Rakim and a plethora of other successive dudes. You know who the last 2 to be God MC’s were? Jay and Nas. Which is where Jay-Hova came from. To quote the lyric:
“Takeover, the wait’s over, nigga
The god MC is me. Jay Hova.”
Not God, god MC. *blank stare*
1. Branding and marketing: it’s creative and it sells. The “diamond” sign is used by millions of groups. Including the black fraternity/sorority known as the Deltas. They’ve been throwing it up before Shawn Carter’s parents met.
2. Because it keeps you asking. It keeps you watching. It keeps you talking about him. It’s his image. The larger than rap, larger than life figure. He said it, you believed it, now he lives it.
How’d you think he got 100 million people bopping to his beat? He didn’t take a degree in mass communications, I’ll tell you that much. He figured out what YOU want to talk about and then fed it to you.
If what rappers said was true, Eric B would’ve been the first Black president of the US, Nas and Lauryn Hill would rule the world, 2Pac would rise from the grave and M.O.P. would be robbing you right now.
Don’t get confused, kids. It’s just rap music. There are real issues to worry about. Like poverty, crime, water shortages, etc. Instead of regurgitating some backwash baseless Jay-z theory, how about we talk about Lupe Fiasco who just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and raised millions of dollars to help our people?
Why not put the spotlight on local artists doing their thing, here and abroad? It’s almost self-loathing to shed the spotlight on a speck from abroad whilst your people are in darkness next to you.
Let’s try and be bigger than that.