While Jay-Z’s latest album, 4:44, may be critically acclaimed for it’s testament to capitalism, it wasn’t Hov’s first and probably won’t be the last. As an all around hustler from the streets to corporate suites, Jay-Z’s concepts on currency is nothing that’s foreign to him or his fans. Since the start of his career, Hov has shared plenty of profitable pointers with us.
Take a look at moments when Hov gave a crash course on cash and other sorts in these songs:
Imaginary Player (1997)
Early on in his career, Jay-Z put his listeners on game in the smoothest way possible in “Imaginary Player.” Currently on his sophomore album in this song, Hov’s made some smart observations in the game and brings them to our attention. Here, he doesn’t hesitate to let you know his money is longer and stronger than yours whether it’s in the streets or on them beats. Hov might come off like he’s bragging or being boastful but it’s only because he’s done the record business his way by moving Rocafella Records independently in it’s initial stages. He playfully pokes at the pretenders who can’t afford his level of luxury and calls out the “fugazi” ways they try to flaunt. He also makes it a note that other rappers should be more concerned with their sales and proprietorship than living out the facade they initially lied in their raps about. He’s calling them out on their bullshit and challenging them to step it up. Only the REAL bosses know “what’s the difference between a 4.0 and 4.6?”
Rap Game/Crack Game (1997)
Jay-Z is certainly not the first to compare moving music and moving drugs but is definitely the most descriptive. With “Rap Game/Crack,” also off his second album, “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1,” he elaborates on just how similar they are and how the music he’s pushing out now is just as dope as what he used to sell back in the day. Jay may be retired from cooking a brick but is still slinging some fire shit in his rhymes. In this track, he might have inspired today’s dealers that ended up with record deals and taught them a thing or 2.
U Don’t Know (2001)
Jay highlights his hustler’s ambition and how it helps differentiate himself as a businessman in “U Don’t Know.” While other rappers are “tryin to get their one’s” with commercial success, Jay-Z is “tryin to get them M’s.” He’s talking millions. In addition, he makes it known he “smartened up, opened the market up” with his clothing line. His dynasty continued when the empire started Rocawear in 1999. Most rappers simply got paid to promote clothing lines, while Rocafella changed the game and started their own. A true hustler indeed, Jay ended up flipping his share in Rocawear in $204 million. “Momma ain’t raised no fool / Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth”
Never Change (2001)
“This is Jay EVERYDAY” and he’s not going to stop dropping knowledge on y’all niggas. “Never Change” is full of gems of entrepreneurship, savings, and building strong business relationships. Some of my favorites throughout were:
- “Chains is cool to cop but what’s most important is lawyer fees”
- “We all fish, better teach your folk
Give him money to eat, the next week he’s broke”
- “Lost 92 bricks, had to fall back
Knocked a nigga off his feet, but I crawled back
Had A-1 credit, got more crack
From the first to the fifth, gave it all back”
Jay stays true to his words that he will “never change” and continues his wealthy wisdom further in his songs.
30 Something (2006)
We are now witnessing “the maturation of Jay-Zeezy” in his song “30 Something.” Now 10 years in the rap game, his funds have matured as well has his demeanor. He’s known to set trends throughout his career and hopes to start another one with this song. He admits he was a reckless spender in his 20s but is taking the time to refocus his behavior accordingly in his 30s. Instead of “buying out the bar” he “bought the nightspot” as he encourages being an entrepreneur in this song. Other financial principles stated in this song include establishing good credit and earning residual income buying stocks.
The Story of OJ (2017)
The Story of OJ is one of the most controversial songs on the album receiving all the wrong attention. It’s no surprise critics ignored the message in the song as it received bullshit backlash accusing Hov of “Anti-Seminism.” People were quick to judge the usage to “the n-word” in the chorus, meanwhile the accompanying visual used minstrel cartoon characters to convey a strong message on how blacks are viewed in America which no one seemed to care about. Others may have missed valid points in this song, but I’m happy to point them out:
Aside from the racial standpoint that plays in the song, Hov additionally sheds light on how there’s hope in “financial freedom.” Jay says “fuck living rich and dying broke” as he gives us “a million dollars worth of game for $9.99.” He revisits his regrets on wasting his money on materialism when he could’ve invested it. Additionally he offers more monetary advice on music ownership, buying back the block, investing in property that holds value, like art, instead of depreciates, like cars, and how those dumbass “money phone” pictures on Instagram look stupid. “There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here.”
In the last installment of his 10 track testament, Jay-Z closes 4:44 with “Legacy.” He discusses his desire to leave a legacy behind for his children and the rest of his family, which includes what he’s built with his multiple businesses and investments. His first daughter, Blue, kicks off the discussion asking about a will as Jay-Z talks about the importance of building black businesses and carrying it on with generational wealth.
What are some of your lessons in loot as told by Hov? Charge it to the game or put it in a comment for me!