Contrary to your proclamation, Mr. Carter, this is not a state of emergency

So it’s here. We all knew it was coming. We’d seen the Def Jam 4th quarter release schedule, we’d heard the rumors, we’d peeped the ending of the NBA on TNT commercial, we’d looked at the cell-phone picture from his show in Slovakia, and now it’s upon us. Jay’s first single leaked on Friday. Greg Street plays it 9 times in a row in Atlanta and gets L.A. Reid to call him, I personally heard it about 17 times on Hot 97 in the last two days, it’s blowing up in the clubs (although the DJ at the party I attended Friday night didn’t play it – step your download crate digging game up, kid), and apparently Def Jam is ‘bout to get some of them alphabet boys on the case, ostensibly to find the source of the leak and Abu Ghraib that motherfucker.

I don’t not like it. I just don’t love it.

But first things first, what I do love is the beat. While Just Blaze, the title of the song, and the Flavor Flav samples scratched in on the chorus suggests that the track is inspired and borrows from Public Enemy’s “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” (which, of course, is sampled from something else – no idea is original) I think I’m right in assuming that upon first listen, most folks will more readily recognize the opening horns as the ones from that seminal Virginia Beach classic “Rump Shaker.” I had neither heard, nor heard of, the P.E. song. This professed ignorance can most easily be chalked up to a generational thing. Although I do promise to go downsteal it and read my scriptures.

Anyhow, in recognizing it as a “Rump Shaker” reference, I immediately thought….it was kinda wack. “Rump Shaker” was cool, if mostly as sort of a novelty song, but I always distinctly remember being really annoyed by the horns. Although it’s obviously the most recognizable part of the song, for me, it was always the most grating part. However, I’m willing to step outside of personal preferences, if only for a moment, and give props where props are due. Besides my dislike of the horns, the beat is sound, and from a technical standpoint, pretty amazing. I think it’s fair to say that Just Blaze and the Blazettes have the best drums in hip-hop music today. As President Carter transitions from his customary beginning-of-song shit-talking to his first verse, Just Bleezy lets the drums lag behind the horns for just a second, and then makes them catch up just as quick. The way he constantly switches up tempo (3-4 different tempos, flip-flopped in probably 11-12 places) here, and in many of his creations, is masterful. If you’re not listening for it, you’ll easily miss it. Blaze’s drums are an organic, live-at-the-Apollo, amalgam of beautiful kicks, snares, bass hits, and cymbal crashes. Plus he goes a little nuts with all of it there at the end. Nice.

Hold on, it’s gonna take me a second to get down off of Just Blaze’s jock; alright, I’m back. This leaves us (more importantly) with Jay’s lyrics and what I guess you’d call the message, or the overall theme of the song. That’s the thing though; Jay doesn’t say much, the song doesn’t say much, and I’m left with nothing much to take away. Except a really good Just Blaze beat.

This is only brought into sharper focus by seeing how much I did have to say about Just Blaze and his beat, but….I just don’t have much to say about what Jay’s saying. Which, again, is not much. See a trend forming here? He’s got a couple of good lines (he is Jay, of course), but there’s just not much substance. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the excuses already: it’s just his first single, it’s for the clubs (kind of an odd choice for that, even), but fuck that – when have any of those stipulations ever precluded Jay from spitting before?

But I gotta pause here, and ask myself a question. Probably one we should all ask ourselves. And be honest.

Is there anything that Jay-Z could have came with that wouldn’t have brought us some level of disappointment?

The man has taken on such mythical proportions in the minds of most hip-hop fans, and most certainly mine, that, given the special set of circumstances (lead single off of “comeback” album, as opposed to, say, a guest verse on his girlfriend’s crappy R&B song), there’s just about nothing short of “Show You How To Do This” that he could have come up with to really blow cats away. With that being said, I’m not even disappointed on some “This shit is mediocre…..for Jay.” I’m disappointed on some “This shit is mediocre.” Period.

Although I’m still filled with that Christmas morning, first-day-of-school, tip-off for the ‘chip mix of excitement and anticipation for “Kingdom Come” — as I always am when someone tells me that Jay’s “got some words,” and as I always will be — this song just ain’t it. But whatever, I’ll be there bright and early on November 21. So will you.


6 responses to “Contrary to your proclamation, Mr. Carter, this is not a state of emergency

  1. Sam I am sadly disappointed with this shit sandwich of a post.

    How dare you downplay the historical relevance of: “Rump shaker,” which ushered in an era of video hoes and party songs (which led to a great time for me at USA Skates); The musical genius of a young high school student by the name of Pharrell Williams and the brilliance of the mastermind that is Teddy Riley.

    I am going to assume that you have done this out of ignorance, since were not really listening to rap back then. Hip Hop was partially built on a novelty song called “Rapper’s Delight” (whose royalties recently assisted in funding the 2nd gayest Super Sweet 16) but that does not away from its importance or its place in history as a classic.

    Below are some of the quotable lines in the cult classic “Rump Shaker”

    “All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom in the pum pum”

    “Shake it, shake it, shake it now SHAKE IT/ she can spend every birthday butt naked”

    “I ain’t into to trickin’ just to treatin’/ and I ain’t into treatin every chick that I’m meetin”

  2. Ray, I certainly meant no disrespect to Pharrell, Teddy Riley, video hoes, party songs, or your salad days at USA Skates. Although you’re not entirely correct in saying that I wasn’t listening to hip-hop back then (see my very first post — those are the very first rap tapes I ever bought), it is true that I wasn’t really into Wreckx-N-Effect. That fact notwithstanding, I have nothing but appreciation and admiration for Teddy Riley and his New Jack Swing sound, and for the start he gave to young Skateboard P. I recognize the historical relevance of “Rump Shaker” (and certainly that of “Rapper’s Delight,” too), but my point was, and still is…I just don’t like it.

    On a personal note, I know I’m doing something right if I inspired in you the passion to call my writing a “shit sandwich of a post.” You’ve given me the strength to go on.

  3. You are correct. I was indeed moved by this ball sucking (No Angelo) anti-Hovetic post, to the point where I had to comment. Thus you have my blessing to blog, as Joe has apparently retired and those fucks at XXL are lazy.

    And in reference to the first rap tapes you ever bought, fuck that. You were not heavily listening to hip hop back then and no list of “my first tapes” is going to convince me otherwise. Though I give you credit for going back and doing your homework

  4. Ray….you don’t know. I was there and I remember those tapes. Don’t mess with the Beresfords. WRIGHT AVENUE 4 LIFE.

  5. Nice piece Sam. Jay did take those trumpets or horns from ‘Showemwhatchagot’ on what is arguably the greatest RAP album of all time, ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back.’ And by simple virtue of the fact that you didn’t know that, I must question your understanding of the foundation or even the understanding of Jay’s use of the sample.

    P.E. was and still is…life. Jigga’s style may be love (and it is), but go back and cop ‘Nation of Millions’, ‘Fear of A Black Planet’, ‘Apocalypse ’91’ so that you can see what I’m talking about. It will definitely be worth your time.


  6. Lia………..after over six years these are the first words you have ever said (typed) to me, which is why the guru will come off of his hill and respond to your most recent comment. But first allow me to express how shocked I am to see that you are even reading this blog, since it is mostly rap and sneakers, which are two things that reflect the urban influence Sammy has experienced over the years while you have strategically avoided it.

    Now as for your comment: What tapes do you remember? Were you really “there” or were you in your own room kissing the poster of the white New Edition (NKOTB, since I am sure you have no idea who New Edition is) and memorizing the lyrics to “Hanging Tough?”

    The truth of the matter is Sam was NOT HEAVILY listening (besides what made it to the radio in Charlotte) to rap music back then (pre Peety Pablo).

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