Saturday, November 11, 2006

Jay-Z Feels Guilty About Katrina

In a rap about Hurricane Katrina, Hova rides a haunting Dr. Dre track, interspliced with news report soundbites, sounds of storm and constantly flowing water, plus loud-ass helicopters. "Minority Report" comes from the unretired Jay-Z's soon-to-be-released Kingdom Come (which hit the internets today minus bonus tracks).

But unlike other stellar rap songs by New Orleans rappers like Juvenile and Lil Wayne, Jay-Z does more than just blame Bush (though he does say it would have been something if Air Force One ran out of fuel during Bush's fly-through over New Orleans in September of 2005).

Jigga blames himself:

Same old story in New Orleans

Silly rappers cause we gotta couple Porsches

Empty [to be deciphered later] fill my fortresses

We forget the unfortunate

Sure, I ponied up a mil but I didn't give 'em the time

So in reality I didn't give a dime or a damn

I just put my monies in the hands of the same people that left my people stranded

Nothing but abandoned, left my folks abandoned

Damn, the money that we gave was just a band-aid

Can't say we're better off than we was before

In synopsis, this is my minority report

Can't say we're better off than we was before

In synopsis, this is my minority report

Near the end, after Ne-Yo finishes singing basically what Jay-Z offered up in one long verse, some more soundbites are heard of Bush and news reports, then Kanye West's famous line about Bush not caring about black people is sampled. But when Ne-Yo sings "seems like we don't even care" softly then powerfully, the song becomes more than just a blame Bush diatribe.

Jay-Z has only done a few real political raps in his long illustrious career. Before "Minority Report," I'd have to say his strongest statement rap was "99 Problems," and many people just focused on the "b word" in the chorus and missed what he was really talking about.

But the rap industry has changed the last few years. Common, Talib Kweli, and even Immortal Technique may not sell as many records as the Nellys, T.I.s and Eminems (all of whom i like, no disses), but with the Internet they've become far more known, heard and respected, and they've gained the respect of their peers, and are namedropped more often in their songs and interviews. With shit like Katrina, Iraq and take-your-pick-the-last-six-years, I expect the trend to continue, and the content to become even stronger.

It would be nice to get a record by a major artist that contains more than one "Mosh" or "Why?" or "Diamonds (remix)." Major artists other than Nas, of course.

Now, of course, everybody that takes advantage of the following link should make sure to cop this legitimately on November 21. Hope President S. Carter doesn't mind but this is an important song that needs to be heard, however long that link lasts.

My early verdict on the whole CD is that it's not as good as The Blueprint or The Black Album, but it's top notch, all the same. Two other tracks that haven't surfaced yet which stand out are "30 Something" - another Dre production in which Jigga claims that "30 is the new 20" - and "Oh My God" - a Just Blaze track which is so slamming that even this particular "best rapper alive" can't overshadow (other B.R.A.'s may have better luck on future mixtapes).

At this stage, I'd have to give "album of the year" honors to The Game for The Doctor's Advocate, but the new Nas is just around the corner.


Different Kitchen has the oddest track on the record, the Coldplay Chris Martin collaboration "Beach Chair."

It's a day later, and I am starting to feel Kingdom Come a lot more. The four Dre tracks are all standouts. "Trouble" is definitely not the same Chronic 2000 sound Dre's been bumping for the last six years. I still think he's the best (followed by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz), but I understand why a lot of folks think he's just doing the same song over and over again. Dre is the Phil Spector of rap, and his songs, especially the ones he mixes, all sound louder and more powerful and more THX sounding than anything else on the radio.

Dre did some great work on the also-leaked Snoop record, as well. Check out Diff. Kitchen for "Imagine," which has the Doctor rapping, and reminded me of Jadakiss' "Why?" just a little bit.


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