Jay-Z’s career trajectory is something else. He was once a tongue-twisting underground MC who started his own Roc-A-Fella Records independently because he couldn’t secure a major-label deal. Now Hov is rap’s biggest draw, turning his multilayered bars into multimillion-dollar businesses.
In hip-hop, where so much worth is based on the notion of maintaining street credibility, it would be easy for someone of Jay-Z’s stature to lose touch. “I’m not jaded by the whole process,” Jay-Z insisted when he spoke to MTV News out in Philadelphia to announce his upcoming Made in America music festival.
On that day, Jay took the stage at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, which is nothing new. On his 2009 single “On to the Next One,” Jigga bragged that he had President Obama “on the text.” Still, the man who once battled DMX while standing on top of a pool table is not desensitized. “I’m a fan of the journey as well,” he said.
To his credit, Jay has remained on top of his game on the road to becoming a global icon. Just this past weekend, he performed in Paris, where he and Kanye West rocked their infectious rap hit “N—as in Paris” 11 times in front of a star-studded crowd that included wife Beyoncé and buddy Gwyneth Paltrow. This fall, he will officially welcome an NBA franchise to his native Brooklyn as a minority owner of the Nets and curate and headline his first two-day music festival in Philly.
Still, Jay doesn’t see his wins as just solo victories. Each win he notches adds to hip-hop’s growth. It’s a “we” thing.
“I see myself as part of the collective of hip-hop. I don’t see myself as a thing that operates outside of it,” he said. “So when I do these sort of things, I’m like, ’Man, we’ve come a long way.’ ”
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