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You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”  Nina Simone statement, along with her classic samples from HOV’s 4:44 album, seemly speaks to us plain and clear. These are the times we need inspiration and wisdom because of the uncertainty of where this country is headed. Then like abracadabra, Jay–Z drops the gems we need right on time. He’s a serious student of politics and art and that’s what makes him unprecedented.  The wisdom from his empire motivates me daily and I’ve adopted them into my mantra practice because they’re unquestionably catchy yet powerful tools. I’m not a new Jay-Z fan. I’ve been riding with him since “Reasonable Doubt”, but my favorite track is “Legacy” because my elder always ensured me all this work is not in vain when the next generation is watching.  “Legacy” actually inspired me to organize a family “Legacy” gathering/picnic to fellowship with my loved ones and foster deeper relationships because my bloodline is the only reason to keep going.  Family first is more than a motto to me; its law. “Black excellence baby, you gon’ let ‘em see”.  Eleven pearls I gained from the album are listed below. Ante up!

        

Track: “Kill Jay Z”-
“Never go Eric Benet”
-The price of your ego isn’t worth the loss of your soul mate.
 Track: “The Story of OJ”-.
Financial freedom my only Hope, fuck living rich and dying broke”.
Generational poverty is the chain Hov is breaking, all while challenging his listeners to follow suit by taking risks.
Track: “Smile” (feat. Gloria Carter)-
“But life is short, and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed”       
 -Self-explanatory but we can see where Jay inherits his skill from. This poem permeates the heart and spirit.  Love is the only real gamble and we all can win.
       
       Track: “Caught Their Eyes” (feat. Frank
  “I sat down with Prince, eye to eye
He told me his wishes before he died
Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind,
they only see green from them purple eyes”
             -In 2017, the estate of the deceased musician, Prince-led by Prince’s former attorney and adviser to his estate, Londell McMillian-sued Tidal for copyright infringement after making Prince’s previous albums available on the streaming service. Prince’s music is now availayble on other streaming services such as Apple  and Spotify.
Purple was a color synonymous with Prince—”green” is slang for money.
Track: “4:44”
“I apologize to all the woman whom I
Toyed with your emotions because I was emotionless
I apologize ’cause at your best you are love
And because I fall short of what I say I’m all about
Your eyes leave with the soul that your body once housed
And you stare blankly into space
Thinkin’ of all the time you wasted in on all this basic shit
So I apologize…”
-Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), also named Mawlānā, which means “our master”, is one of the Islamic world’s greatest poets. He is usually known in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi. He was a Sufi mystic, philosopher and lover of humanity. (Wikipedia, 2017) This is Jay-Z’s favorite poet and he recently just named one of the twins after the him. The reason I mention Rumi is because his poetry is spiritual and lovely, we can see the inspiration, and 4:44 is a beautiful ode to Beyonce Carter.  The evolution on the album was capsulated in this one line: What good is a ménage à trios when you have a soul mate?  You risked that for Blue?”  This man bared his soul and just redefined manhood.  Much props to Sean Carter’s redemption song.
Track: “Family feud” (feat. Beyoncé)
“A man that don’t take care his family can’t be rich
I’ll watch Godfather, I miss that whole shit”.
-Family is the constant theme because any wise person knows that is what keeps a good name and fortune.
If I am in harmony with my family, that’s success.” ~ Ute proverb
Bonus:
“I told my wife this spiritual shit really works…”
One of my favorite lines because his love for his wife is so apparent that he’s introducing her to spiritual systems, that’s a class act!
Track BAM (feat Damian Jr. Gong)
“Sometimes you need your ego, gotta remind these fools
Who they effin’ with, and we got FN’s too…”
-Ego is necessary in the game we call life, you just have to know how to use it and when to use it.  Jigga is a master chess player and this is why he’s winning.  It’s called appropriation and strategy.
  Track Moonlight
“Y’all niggas still signin’ deals? Still?
After all they done stole, for real?
After what they done to our Lauryn Hill?
And y’all niggas are ‘posed to be trill?”
Kendrick Lamar made a bold statement: “Thank you for this album, you are the master teacher”.  That statement sums up my sentiments accurately.  Jay-Z is big homie and you have to take heed to the jewelry he’s dropping because his empire speaks for itself. Kujichagulia principal from Kwanzaa (Self-Determination) is the lesson in this track and the entire album.  They’re not giving us our 40 acres and mule, so we have to take it! That means  wise up about our business decisions. I appreciate that stanza and reference about Ms. Hill too.  She is the Queen and deserves all the high praises!
      Track Marcy Me
“I started in lobbies now, parley with Saudis
Sufi to the goofies, I could probably speak Farsi
That’s poetry, read a coca leaf from my past
Came through the bushes smellin’ like roses
I need a trophy just for that”
Poetically, Jay murdered this track! Eloquent juxtapositions to credit his struggle from Marcy projects to speaking Farsi with the Saudis.  Farsi is a Persian/Arabic language and Saudis are the people who occupy Northern Africa. Sufi’s are the mystical followers of Islam. One thing we know about Hov is that he’s well studied about ancient systems and their powers. All praises due!
Track: “Legacy”
“Daddy, what’s a will?” -Blue Ivy
“There was a time America wouldn’t let us ball
Those times are now back, just now called Afro-tech
Generational wealth, that’s the key
My parents ain’t have shit, so that ship started with me”
    Perfect way to end a masterpiece. Blue’s question ushered in the million-dollar answer us black folks seem to overlook every time: Generational wealth is the key.  Again, our families are the greatest assets and far too many times we get left with dry hopes. These are the times and Jay is speaking prophesy to black people in America simply stating, “It’s time for us to get our shit together”.  We’re in the age of information and the world wide web, which provides direct consumer relationships, but we still use other platforms such as Facebook and Twitters to build our platform. However, if you must use it build your brand.  Every black person is into Afrotech if they have a social media account. So, build your brand!
To conclude, take this album along with your personal experiences and use it as a tool of self-empowerment.  A Million dollars’ worth of game for $9.99 is a sound investment. Remember Hip-Hop is an intelligent movement. Let’s get free!
We all screwed ’cause we never had the tools
I’m tryna fix you…”
Infinite Love,
Aza

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