We haven't had a new Jay Z album in almost two-and-a-half years, but on Thursday (Nov. 5), we got some new music in the form of old music, when Tim Westwood dropped a previously-unreleased Hov freestyle from 1999.
Jay is fully in the zone here: His rhymes are clever, he glides with agility over an array of beats, and his boasts are supreme.
All of that is reason enough to drown yourself in the newly-unearthed track. But there's another reason, too: More than a few times during these four minutes, we're reminded what 1999 was like, in general, and what it was like for Jay, and how much he's evolved since then.
He references Sam Goody. If you're saying, "Who?" my response is, no, you're supposed to be asking, "What?" Sam Goody was a CD store that closed in 2006 after 50 years. CDs were these really thin, circular things, which held music, that people bought. People buying music was a thing that happened.
He brags, "I come through, gettin' money, sittin' on 20s." Rapping about how big your car rims are? Yeah, that was a thing for a while.
He calls himself "Jiggaman," and I can't recall him doing that in ages.
At one point, he raps, "No kids, but trust me, I know how to raise a gun." These days? Yes kids. Shoutout to Blue.
You may recognize the line, "Don't talk to me 'bout MCs got skills/ He's alright, but he's not real," because he rapped it later in 1999, on Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter's "Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)"
He admits, "I just came to terms with the night that they shot Biggie/ And I sold five million records, damn I'm pretty." And while he's still pretty, and may still in some ways be coming to terms with the death of his friend, he's sold a few more than five mil to date.