Listening to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s latest albums, Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail is making me think of lyrics in rap music. Arguably, Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of the biggest names in not only the genre, but in music today, so although their output might not be reflective of every rap artist out there (I know there ARE better lyricists), they bear a huge influence.
You rarely feel as good as when you’re being creative. You’ve got the flow, you’re in the moment, your eyes are wide open, taking things in, twisting and turning them until they make sense. New sense. Different sense.
It seems like you can’t force creativity, you’ve got to let it come to you. But you can open the door for it.
I’ve listened to Watch the Throne from Kanye West and Jay-Z for a few days now and I’m not sure whether to like it or feel slightly disappointed it. I think both actually, I kind of expected more from these two greats.
I don’t even know which is supposed to be the hit on the album. With Kanye’s last one (Dark and Twisted Fantasy, yeah the theme is there) it was obvious that “Power” and “All the Lights” was going to strike gold, platinum, whatever.
“The city lived in a sort of everyday present. It had no need to believe in itself as a London, or an Athens, or even a signifier of the New World, like a Sydney, or a Los Angeles. No, the city couldn’t care less about where it stood. He had seen a T-shirt once that said: NEW YORK FUCKIN’ CITY. As if it were the only place that ever existed and the only one that ever would. New York kept going forward precisely because it didn’t give a good goddamn about what it had left behind.”
I like this quote from Decoded.
But this is one of the things that makes rap at its best so human. It doesn’t force you to be pretend to be only one thing or another, to be a saint or a sinner. It recognizes that you can be true to yourself and still have unexpected dimensions and opposing ideas. Having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other is the most common thing in the world. The real bullshit is when you act like you don’t have contradictions inside you, that you’re so dull and unimaginative that your mind never changes or wanders into strange unexpected places.
Jay-Z wrote a book? Yes he did. Decoded is part memoir and part description of some of his most provocative lyrics and although I haven’t finished it yet I really like it so far. I am reading the Kindle version.
You can get it here. It’s worth the dough.