March 23, 2010

I'm a Hater

When it comes to Jay-Z, I'm pretty much a hater. I dislike him.  My dislike was crystallized by the song "Roc Boys" where he glorified crack dealers.  I thought it was an extremely cynical, purely commercial (in the sense that it was only for the money) song, and from a values standpoint, it was simply terrible. It didn't help that I liked the tune.  Recently he teamed up with Alicia Keyes for "Empire State of Mind".  Jay-Z combined his get the money hip with Alicia's homewrecker skeez to rock out a performance at the AMA's. But listening to the words, one could not miss Jay-Z's anti-Jesus lyrics.

Jay Z recently released a new video for the song "On to the Next One", which like "Empire State of Mind" is an ode to himself. The video has some disturbing imagery in it, with the goat's head antlers and the cross between bullets being the one that makes you think Jay-Z has a problem with God.  Which apparently turns out to be the case.  On further investigation, apparrently Jay-Z has been dropping anti-God lyrics into his music for years and engaging in the hubris of calling himself "Hov", a derivation of Jehovah.

I'm simultaneously repulsed by its values and engaged by the visuals of the On to the Next One video.  Its dark, its grim, its pregnant with the arrogance of success. The song has an inveitable forward movement rythym that I like and that repeating song being sung in the background of the song makes me think of horror flicks like "Seven".  If I read this video as Jay-Z's way of tilting at the windmill of God, its not hard to imagine the birdlike dancing woman or minor rapper Swizz Beats in the video as Jay-Z's daemonic familiars, populating his dark kindgom of flaming basketballs and money.

If the devil can qoute scripture (and he can) then even a man foolish enough to openly mock God can say something insightful, even inspiring. Jay-Z analyzes his own a success a bit with lyrics like

" I move onward, the only direction
cant be scared to fail, Searchin for perfection"

don’t be mad cos it’s all about progression,
loiterers should be arrested
World can’t hold me, too much ambition

The words are instructive, a challenge to me almost. Jay-Z values, as carried by his music, are poisonus, destructive.  Yet he's rocking the planet at the pinnacle of fame, fortune and influence with the trophy Beyonce at his side, while simultaneoulsly mocking God. Jay-Z is comfortable and confident in his arrogance, in the certainty of his money making creative purpose.  I wonder what's he doing right that I'm doing wrong that our positions aren't reversed? I listen to the lyrics again and again trying to divine his secret, stunned at his defiance of God, jealous and resenful of his success despite that. As I bounce my head and mouth the words silently yet again, I think to myself, yeah, I'm a hater.