kottke.org posts about Jay-Z
A track called Computerized featuring Jay Z rapping over Daft Punk beats has surfaced. Take a listen:
I agree with Drew Millard's take that this is an old unreleased track from the Tron Legacy / The Blueprint 3 days.
First, this isn't an original Daft Punk instrumental; that keyboard line is a loop from the song "Son of Flynn" off of Daft Punk's score for Tron: Legacy. From there, literally anyone-like, even me in GarageBand-could loop that, throw some drums in there, get a vocoder plugin and sing "computeriiiiiized" into it.
From there, let's analyze Jay Z's lyrics, which include the line, "I got an iTouch but I can't feel," and also a reference to Hov Jobs' BlackBerry. Judging from the dated technology iHova is talking about on here, this is probably old as fuck.
In celebration of his 44th birthday, Jay Z ranked his solo albums:
Here's the annotated list:
1. Reasonable Doubt (Classic)
2. The Blueprint (Classic)
3. The Black Album (Classic)
4. Vol. 2 (Classic)
5. American Gangster (4 1/2, cohesive)
6. Magna Carta (Fuckwit, Tom Ford, Oceans, Beach, On the Run, Grail)
7. Vol. 1 (Sunshine kills this album... fuck... Streets, Where I'm from, You Must Love Me...)
8. BP3 (Sorry critics, it's good. Empire (Gave Frank a run for his money))
9. Dynasty (Intro alone...)
10. Vol. 3 (Pimp C verse alone... oh, So Ghetto)
11. BP2 (Too many songs. Fucking Guru and Hip Hop, ha)
12. Kingdom Come (First game back, don't shoot me)
In July, Jay Z rapped Picasso Baby at Pace Gallery in NYC for six hours. The fruits of that labor have been condensed by director Mark Romanek into a 10-minute music video that premiered on HBO last night. Here's the film:
The idea of performance art came to mind. I was aware of Marina Abramovic's Artist is Present, even though I was in London shooting 'Never Let Me Go' and didn't get to go. And the idea that Jay-Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, 'What about performing at one person at a time?' He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, 'Hold on! I've got chills. That idea is perfect.' He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina's blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn't have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.
Also, somehow, I have never heard Jay Z talk before. That's his voice?
According to the data scientists at Stellar (i.e. me armed with clumsy SQL queries), people like riffing off of Jay-Z's line from 2004's 99 Problems:
If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you, son
I've got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one
Here are some of the better ones I found:
@antichrista: If you got religious circumcision, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a bris ain't one.
@elibraden: I'm rubbing lotion on my belly rapping "I got 99 problems but ab itch ain't one" to the elderly men in the gym locker room.
@goldengateblond: "I got 99 problems but the witch ain't one." — Darrin Stevens, widower
@evacide: I've got 99 problems, but an insufficiently sophisticated grasp of 4th amendment law ain't one: https://t.co/E2XcSpb8
@dustmop: I got 99 problems but one of them is that i used hex and i actually have 152 other problems :(
@sween: If you're coming to Canada to escape Obamacare, I feel bad for you son. We've got 99 problems but a lack of socialized medicine ain't one.
@bagyants: "I got 99 problems, but they can wait." - Lay-Z
@mikesacco: i got 99 problems but that's 693 in dog problems!!
@blitznbeans: "I got 99 problems but I really need to lie back on this chair." - Chaise-Z
@justin: I've got 99 problems but a view controller that works as expected on iOS 5 and doesn't respond to user interaction on iOS 4 is the main one.
@paulypeligroso: "I got 99 problems but a bitch aint one." - The Dalmatian parents from 101 Dalmatians.
@trevso_electric: I got 99 problems but white privilege ensures that they're relatively trivial or easily worked out with a therapist.
@yellowcardigan: I got 99 problems but a joke structure based on a 2004 rap single ain't one.
@lisarahmat: I got 99 problems but my math ain't one hundred.
Let's get a Kickstarter together to have Jay-Z rap all these lines.
I liked this Zadie Smith profile of Jay-Z, and not just for The Wire reference. Smith's got a nice way with words and handles Jay-Z's way with words nicely.
In "Decoded," Jay-Z writes that "rap is built to handle contradictions," and Hova, as he is nicknamed, is as contradictory as they come. Partly because he's a generalist. Biggie had better boasts, Tupac dropped more knowledge, Eminem is -- as "Renegade" demonstrated -- more formally dexterous. But Hova's the all-rounder. His albums are showrooms of hip-hop, displaying the various possibilities of the form. The persona is cool, calm, almost frustratingly self-controlled: "Yeah, 50 Cent told me that one time. He said: 'You got me looking like Barksdale' " -- the hot-blooded drug kingpin from HBO's "The Wire" -- "and you get to be Stringer Bell!" -- Barksdale's levelheaded partner. The rapper Memphis Bleek, who has known Jay-Z since Bleek himself was 14, confirms this impression: "He had a sense of calm way before music. This was Jay's plan from day one: to take over. I guess that's why he smiles and is so calm, 'cause he did exactly what he planned in the '90s." And now, by virtue of being 42 and not dead, he can claim his own unique selling proposition: he's an artist as old as his art form. The two have grown up together.
Additionally, you'll enjoy this profile of a guy who has sent a couple hundred letter-length emails to Jay-Z since 2010, and is pretty sure the emails are being read.
Kanye and Jay-Z are doing a second album together!
Kanye West's producer Mike Dean, who co-produced part of Jay and 'Ye's Watch the Throne, has confirmed that there will be a Watch the Throne 2! While Dean revealed that a follow up album is definitely in the works, he was unable to give a specific time for its release.
Maybe they'll call it Watch the Throner?
This is so perfectly in the kottke.org wheelhouse that I can't even tell if it's any good or not: a mashup of Jay-Z and Kanye's Niggas in Paris and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan reviewed Jay-Z and Kanye's album, Watch the Throne...and it is hilarious.
2. Lift Off (ft. Beyonce) - I almost aint wanna even comment on this shit son.... I dont even kno what to say bout it yo. This shit sounds like the anthem the fairies in Ferngully would use to go to war against evil humans to or some shit b. This shit is like Shia LeBeouf in song form yo. Lissenin to this shit is like havin ya ears penetrated by a million microscopic dicks namsayin. Shit sounds like niggas doin aerobics on a magical cloud of daisies. How many meadows did Kanye cartwheel across before he decided to make this beat? Seriously yo....
Update: The review was not written by Ghostface but it is still hilarious. (thx, all)
A gem of a Q&A from Quora: How valid is the implied legal advice in Jay-Z's "99 Problems"? The lyrics, in part:
"Well do you mind if I look around the car a little bit?"
Well my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back
And I know my rights, so you gon' need a warrant for that
And the answer:
Consenting to a voluntary search is never a good idea, especially if you have felony weight on you. The standard to search the glove compartment is actually fairly low in California, since it's accessible to the driver. I'm not sure how the locked status interferes with it being a glove compartment. The trunk can be opened if the car is impounded, for inventory reasons, which is a common way to get evidence. However, a locked case inside the trunk will not be opened (depends on the state).
They each have a personal brand web site -- Gwyneth has GOOP and Jay-Z has the recently launched Life + Times -- so they recently decided to interview each other about that. Here's Z Qing G:
SC: Personally I was very surprised at your extensive knowledge of hip-hop songs. Particularly how you can sing '90s hip-hip songs word for word. I can't even do that! How does a girl from Spence discover hip-hop?
GP: I first was exposed to hip-hop when I was about 16 (1988) by some boys who went to collegiate. The Beastie Boys were sort of the way in for us preppie kids. We were into Public Enemy, Run-DMC and LL Cool J. But then I went to LA the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and I discovered N.W.A which became my obsession. I was fascinated by lyrics as rythym and how Dre had a such different cadence and perspective from say, Eazy-E, who I thought was one of the most ironic and brilliant voices hip-hop has ever had. It was an accident that I learned every word of Straight Outta Compton and to love something that a.) I had no real understanding of in terms of the culture that it was emanating from and b.) to love something that my parents literally could not grasp. But I was hooked. I can't remember what I ate for dinner last night but I could sing to you every single word of N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police" or [Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's] "It Takes Two." Go figure.
And here's G Qing Z:
GP: You are the coolest man on Earth, how the f did you get like that?
SC: I'm around great women, starting with my mom. Women keep men cool. The hotter the chick the cooler the guy ... that sounds like a really bad rap line!
What a couple of huge cornballs! And I mean that in the best way possible.
If this profile of Jay-Z in the WSJ is any indication, the guy doesn't seem to have any problems anymore.
In his office, by a coffee table stacked with art books (Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha), his Forbes magazine and a humidor, he perches on the edge of a chair with his fingers tucked into his pockets. He says he'll always rap about variations on the same themes: drug hustling, business boasts, luxury hopscotching from Gucci to Louis Vuitton to the new Dior suit he says is a perfect fit. They're all narrative devices:
"I'm just describing a scene, but the crux of the story is the message. Almost like a movie. Setting: South of France. This is what's happening. This guy from out the projects who didn't graduate from high school is now living this sort of life. And this is how he got here."