Jay Z goes hard

With the exception of a few laughably cheap shots at Celine Dion, Zane Lowe and The NME I rarely post negative reviews or slag people off.  Why waste time telling people what NOT to listen to, when so much wonderful music gets overlooked?

In the months since Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn (Go Hard)” leaked it’s received almost universal praise, and musically I wouldn’t argue much with that. Lyrically however one little line makes the track vaguely depressing to these ears.

America has a hugely symbolic first black president (upliftingly commemorated by Jay Z himself with “My President is Black“) but is it really acceptable in 2009 for America’s No.1 rapper to quote lyrics advocating violence against gays? The answer to the post’s title “Is Hova a Homophobe?” is, probably not, but this line is at best unfortunate.

Boom Bye Bye, like Buju I’m crucial – Jay Z “Brooklyn (Go Hard)

It may sound innocuous but lets look at exactly what Jay-Z is describing as crucial!
Back in 1992 Boom Bye Bye’s violently homophobic lyrics led to Banton being dropped by his label and shunned from live performances in the UK (Brighton in particular didn’t seem that keen). I have to hold my hands up and say as a student at the time I bought a copy on 12″ before the true horror of the lyrics quite dawned on me. Amazing track though it is, there really is no place to listen to a chorus that goes “Boom bye bye Inna batty bwoy head“.

When Banton’s not advocating shooting homosexuals (Battyboys) in the head he goes on to suggest setting fire to them so their skin burns like an old tire wheel… is any of this sounding “Crucial” yet?

I find it hard to believe Jay-Z doesnt realise the lyrical content of “Boom Bye Bye“. If the line said “Like Buju Im crucial” and didn’t mention Boom Bye Bye, I wouldn’t have such a problem with it.  1992 is a long time ago now, I love Buju’s 1995 “Til Shiloh” album, and to some degree you have to move on.

Would it be acceptable to name check a song advocating murdering blacks, stringing them up and setting fire to them… “like Skrewdriver, I’m crucial“?  No, of course not, it would be abhorrent, obscene and indefensible – just as the line in “Brooklyn (Go Hard)” is.

Jay-Z – Brooklyn Go Hard (feat. Santigold)” (MP3)

Buju Banton – Walk Like a Battyboy” (MP3) – created by the brilliant Wayne&Wax.com

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