The New York Times just ran a fascinating profile on one of the elder statesmen of hip hop. Titled, The House That Hova Built, it's a look into how Jay-Z rose to where he is today.
Aside from the traditional examination of his new career as a businessman and minority owner of the nets, this article also talks about his growth as a rapper itself.
Jay-Z, like rap itself, started out pyrotechnical. Extremely fast, stacked, dense. But time passed and his flow got slower, opened up. Why? â€œI didnâ€™t have enough life experience, so what I was doing was more technical. I was trying to impress technically. To do things that other people cannot do. Like, you canâ€™t do thisâ€ â€” insert beat-box and simultaneous freestyle here â€” â€œyou just canâ€™t do that.â€ Nope. Canâ€™t even think of a notation to demonstrate what he just did. Jay-Z in technician mode is human voice as pure syncopation. On a track like â€œI Canâ€™t Get With That,â€ from 1994, the manifest content of the music is never really the words themselves; itâ€™s the rhythm they create. And if you donâ€™t care about beats, he says, â€œYouâ€™ve missed the whole point.â€
Pretty intriguing look. Plus, it points to some tracks from his back catalogue that I have totally overlooked.