You hear that Jay’s “lost verse” on Rick Ross’ “Maybach Music 2” from last summer? F.I.R.E.S! It dropped last night and the Internets went nuts. In that one lost verse, Jay causally demonstrates why he’s one of the best that ever did it. Relaxed, almost to the point that it sounds like he smoked a j before he did his one two, he drops more quotables than he did on his last two cd’s. Personally I think Jay has more quotables than ANY rapper, dead or alive, and I’m certain, if I had the time to, that I’d be able to go at least 5 years straight, dropping a new quote of his daily, and without ever having to recycle a one.
But I digress. What “leaked” yesterday was Jay at his best. And the main complaint of late that both fans and haters have been living with is how Jay don’t spit it like that no mo’. Then there’s the issue of his questionable beat selection. No doubt he’ll still crank uber hits like “Empire State Of Mind”, but you and I know he ain’t spitting it right, or at least how he should be spitting it. But where most cats are taking his uneven consistency as a superior emcee as a sign of him falling off, I’m seeing it as how much he needs help.
Back when there was the Roc, Hov had a GANG of cats that ensured he stayed on point. Dame Dash is one of the most critical people I’ve ever met, and when Jay wouldn’t come with it, Dame would most def let him know. He should, he knew Jay before he was a star. Dame was a manager,a friend, a partner (no Guru/Solar), but he was never a fan. Clark Kent too. Clark “sought him out”, helped mold him from day one, from being a raw spitter into a master craftsman of songs. From day one, Jay was surrounded by incredible talent that provided him material to shine, but also their expertise as to what made him great. Jaz-O, Ski Beatz, Sauce Money, Preemo, B.I.G., Just Blaze. The list goes on. Add to that the artist stable his Roc team had, Beans, Kanye, Cam, Bleek, Freeway, nothing breeds excellence like a friendly game of competition. And you best believe, same crew or no, anytime a rapper spits with other rappers around, competition is in the building.
Who’s around Jay these days? Kanye is one of the dopest producers ever, but he might still be too much of a fan/little brother to put that critical pressure on Hov to go harder. [||]. Beyonce? Right. As the God MC has ascended atop his tower of fame, power and success, he’s isolated himself, not only from his fans, but also from the people who were instrumental in helping him get there.
This ain’t a shot about why so and so ain’t around, or what went down with this and that. It’s more about how Jay-Z’s never lost “it”, also how he no longer has that creative bubble around him that would provide him that most essential push to correct/assist him in delivering consistent greatness.
His performance on “Maybach Music 2” was a brief flash of how dope dude still is. It was also a cry for help as to how much he needs to continue in nurturing his craft. You never stop growing, and if you do, you’re dead. Jay needs a team, new or old, a team that will push him. My father-in-law, a successful record man and Grammy winner once told me “in show business, one has to work 100% to create the hype to succeed. Once successful, that person has to work 200% for him not to believe his own hype. Once you believe your own hype, it’s a wrap.” Jay needs a team that believes in his greatness, but not an ounce in his hype.
No man is an island B.