Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
For what it’s worth, these two people – respectively – are far from your run-of-the-mill examples of entertainer(s).
Jay-Z, in all his bedazzled stardom, began his career like most rappers: rapping about shit that he saw. & like most rappers, that entailed drugs, violence, police brutality, etc. Legend has it that Jay spent a fair amount of time scrambling around the projects as a young man, but at this juncture in his already prolific life, that’s merely a footnote whose authenticity isn’t nearly as important to his legend as it’s folklore. At some point between Sophie & “Reasonable Doubt,” Shawn Carter started to gain momentum. Without giving a Hip Hop history lesson, this is when he officially stopped being a rapper & began becoming a one-man corporation. While most rappers were planning their next diss song or criminal activity
in the name of self promotion, Jay – apparently – was plotting his future.
Meanwhile, Beyonce Knowles-Carter seems to have managed to avoid the romantic & fiscal mistakes that many of her less-successful contemporaries have made. Aside from her father’s overzealous nature, Beyonce’s core audience hasn’t witnessed a bunch of suitors, abusive relationships, or money mismanagement. (That’s what happens when you hire professionals to oversee your career.) It’s almost like her story is fabricated, contrived, too clean for today’s pop star. She has no (known) drug habit(s), no legal obligations, not even so much as a bastard kid or outstanding tax debt. & she’s accomplished these auxiliary tasks while becoming the biggest thing in R&B since Mariah Carey. (Mariah has since unofficially retired from music to pursue being crazy & Nick Cannon full-time.)
Both of these entertainers are vastly larger than the music they create. Fact. Beyonce makes little girls cry & grown men dance. Jay-Z is obviously an icon, trendsetter, well on his way to becoming the biggest rapper of all time. He tells tales of his criminal encounters, but
Jay-Z Shawn has been making boardroom moves for years. His hostile takeovers involve mergers, acquisitions, & paperwork these days, as do Beyonce’s as well. So when news of a possible union between the two began floating around, the microscopes were called out in full force, preparing to scrutinize this couple to death, like any normal red-blooded American superstar couple deserves to be. But even with the paparazzi’s brute force & the internets taste for fresh blood, the couple eventually married, (& perhaps more importantly) stayed married, & a few days ago, produced another human life into this world. The moment someone outside that hospital said that baby’s name outloud, she instantly became the most famous person in the world, however briefly.
Since the day they had their child, the world has not been able to pull away from Jay & Bey’s (& B.I.’s) personal life. & that’s for good reason, too. Here is a relatively young, professional, African-American husband & wife team who embody dozens of values that “we” wish we could bestow upon our children. & that’s because – unfortunately – in most of “our” communities, role models are few & far between. So while minorities watch their lives with a sense of admiration, singing their songs & doing their dances, mainstream America celebrates the work, dedication, & effort that isn’t often displayed within the Hip Hop community. (Yes, Beyonce is Hip Hop. If Elmo is Hip Hop, surely Beyonce is.)
Not for nothing, but Jay-Z has earned the right to be arrogant, because he’s not ignorant, if you smell my cologne. & Beyonce can talk about how bootylicious her, um, booty is because she doesn’t wave it around like a feather duster. Not very often are there traditional families in the entertainment spotlight, much less loved-based relationships in the Hip Hop community, & I’m glad the media is giving the Carter’s so much (positive) shine. If Jay had’ve gotten arrested or Bey turned up unwed & pregnant, there would have been full episodes of TMZ about it. At least this way, America gets to see that the entire rap game isn’t the hate-fueled cage match that it appears to be, & possibly knock out a few ridiculous racial sterotypes while they’re at it.
Kudos to the Carters, & hats off to all the real fathers/husbands out there. (No pun intended.)