The next few things I argued about were not as simple and were something that everyone who listens to rap has an opinion on: Jay-Z. As we were sitting there watching the game and talking about whatever, Jay-Z came up; in particular Kingdom Come. First @TheUnjealous commented on how Kingdom Come sucks, which I disagreed with.
|I like Kingdom Come|
One of my supporting arguments for Kingdom Come was that two of Jay's top ten songs are off Kingdom Come: "The Prelude" and "Beach Chair". When I said that, @Run_GMC jumped in to question my top ten Jay list. Meanwhile @TheUnjealous tried to discount "The Prelude" because it's an intro, saying intros don't count. I discounted that because one of my favorite Jay songs is an intro, the "Dynasty Intro" to be exact lol. More on that later. Soon we were all reviewing Jay's discography to find ten tracks better than "The Prelude," naturally starting at Reasonable Doubt which everyone said had 4 or 5 tracks in Jay'z top 10. This led to my other major argument, that Reasonable Doubt is great but not all that great. Yea I said it.
|Great no doubt, not his best though.|
So there I was in the midst of 3 arguments regarding Jay-Z:
2) The Prelude is a top 10 Jay song/On my top 10
3) Reasonable Doubt is not all that great
Couldn't quite defend it how I wanted to on Sunday night. So over the next few posts I'll try to since I'm sober.
Let me take on 1 and 3 first because defending those are easier than compiling my top 10. There are certain things that we as "Hip-Hop lovers" are supposed to do or believe or else we are looked at as fakers. There are commonly held opinions about certain albums/songs that are used to gauge one's understanding of Hip-Hop. Some of these opinions are on point and tell the truth (Illmatic is a classic) but some have gained so much popularity that people think they're true. In my opinion "Kingdom Come sucked" falls into this category. It's almost as if people have to say it sucked or else other people will say they don't know anything about hip-hop. Similarly, people have to say Reasonable Doubt is their favorite and/or Jay's best album or their Hip-Hop head status is questioned. Well, I'll step outside the norm on both.
I'll admit KC is not a great album, especially not the type of album we were used to from Jay-Z. It was his first post retirement album, following The Black Album, arguably his greatest album. That was a lot of pressure and expectations. Honestly, it didn't live up to the expectations but there was no way it could. It certainly hurt but it doesn't mean that the album sucked. It did have some bad songs though. "Anything" is certainly a terrible ass song, which most people probably remember this album for. Then of course there is "Hollywood" which unless you're a lady and/or a dancer you hate. "Trouble" and "Dig a hole" are pretty bad as well. I'll say that "Oh my God" is no better than average. So by my count that's 5 songs that are skip worthy. Out of 14 songs that's a lot, especially for Jay, but fairly normal for most albums.
On the flip of these bad songs are the great, and I mean great, ones. No denying how great "Beach Chair" "The Prelude" "Lost Ones" are. On a slightly lesser note there is "I Made It" which get vastly overlooked. Those 4 are great. "Do You Wanna Ride" is a very good tribute/story telling track. The title track is pretty dope too because its a reference to the graphic comic of the same name in which an older, retired Superman, comes back to show young "super heroes" how to do the damn thing. In the 2 1/2 years he was gone he saw the foolishness that was going on and decided that he had "to take off the blazer, loosen up the tie, step inside the booth, superman is alive." I'd say those two are very good. Then there is "Minority Report" which is tough to listen to because of the tragedy it covers but if you get past the heartache its really a damn good track. 4 great tracks, 3 very good ones and then "Show Me What You Got" and "30 Something" which are cool enough to listen to without skipping. 9/14 doesn't suck...not great...but doesn't suck.
On to Reasonable Doubt. It is a great album, certainly a classic. I don't think its so great that everyone must call it their favorite Jay album, or his best. People do though, mainly because its one of the things we're supposed to do as "hip-hop lovers" as I mentioned earlier. For me, as a relatively young cat, I can't do it. I feel like it's an album you had to have been able to listen to and understand when it dropped in '96 to truly appreciate its greatness. You had to have been "of age." For me, the time when you hear a song/album factors into its greatness. If you are in a place in life were you can vibe to it because of experience then it will add to its greatness. That's why I love The Black Album more than Reasonable Doubt. I can remember when it dropped, I went to a record store and bought the CD. I remember everyone talking about it and applying songs to their lives. I remember how those joints hit me. The album was like watching Jordan live, as opposed to just on video. The fact that I can say "I remember that" makes it better for me. I have similar feelings and memories regarding The Blueprint. Shoot, I even have very vivid memories of Vol. 3 and The Dynasty. Truthfully, I didn't listen to RD until 11th or 12th grade maybe. It's hard for me to say RD is better than other Jay albums I listened to (and understood) before it. Retroactive listening lets me see its greatness but it still won't let me put it above other Jay albums. That being said, they are only a few songs from RD that I truly love love and can remember all of the words of. Again, the album is certainly a classic, certainly great, not his best and certainly not my favorite. I wish more people would admit they feel the same way.
It's whateva though. Just my opinion but I'm still a true Hip Hop Lover though, I'm also a warrior too. Let that be known.
My top 10 Jay songs deserve its own post so...