Jay-Z & Chris Rock - Legends, Entwined By Introspection
When Jay-Z dropped "4:44" last year, it was a moment in Hip-Hop that hasn't been seen before. It was an album that was different from anything he did before then. It wasn't boisterous, it wasn't a flex. It was different to what you usually see on the Hip-Hop charts. It was introspective. Hip-Hop, at it's core, is for the young. It's a way of life that is rooted in rebellion & energy.
Jay-Z is pushing 50, you're not going to see him doing any "Big Pimpin'" anytime soon.
But let's not get it twisted, age may be a factor if you want mainstream appeal, but the MC's and producers of the Golden Age are still putting in work. Just last year I saw the Juice Crew in London. Big Daddy Kane is still doing shows and a feature here and there. Masta Ace dropped an album just two years ago. (And a good album at that. Put it in my revised Top 10) Roxanne Shante has a Netflix biopic! Jay-Z bucked the trend when he dropped "4:44". He should be "washed", "over the hill". But he made a Hip-Hop album made by someone pushing 50, I don't see many rappers doing that.
Hip-Hop is a young person's game. Comedy, on the other hand, is a little more universal. Young, old, there's no bounds of background for comedians. In February, I watched Chris Rock's Netflix special "Tamborine", his first stand-up special in over a decade. A lot of things have happened for Rock since "Kill The Messenger", from going through a divorce to directing his film "Top Five", similar to Shawn Carter, life hasn't been rosy.
The two men are legends in their fields. Ironically, they're constantly in Top 5 discussions. They also have had some turmoil in recent years. But as we all know, the greatest pain can help inspire some of the best art. When you watch "Tamborine", you start to realise that it's not a laugh riot like most stand-up shows. For one thing, the setting was a small room, intimate. You would think Rock would've opted to film it from one of the arenas he went to during his "Total Blackout" World Tour, but it was just a small room of people. Rock doesn't seek for just laughs. There are these moments where he talks about some real stuff. It's kind of gripping. You get this same feeling when listening to "4:44", moments where you're not looking for that hard punchline or that tight flow, just a beat, a man reflecting on his mistakes and trying to give us "A Million Dollars worth of game for $9.99".
Introspection - "The examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes."
You rarely see this from people that still pull in numbers. Rock and Jay still sell out arenas, Jay is well into his blockbuster LiveNation deal, Rock is currently writing his next Netflix special. Granted, this is more possible in comedy because life stories are great no matter the age and music is a young game. (From a mainstream standpoint) But these two have done something that is rarely seen, building careers using braggadocio & great creativity and then suddenly stopping to really think about their lives outside the art and managing to evolve before our very eyes. Jay-Z didn't make "4:44", Shawn Carter did.
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well that's fine, because Carter & Rock managed to use their old tricks to not just stay relevant, but give a refreshing new look of themselves, quite possibly, making their glistening careers just that little more legendary.