“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Dr.Martin Luther King Jr
After watching Meek Mill's new video "Young Black America" and "The O.J Story" along with the Footnotes by Jay Z I decided to write this article. I've always been very open about my feelings about racism and the mistreatment of blacks here in America. Recently I saw a video of a black man being attacked by a K-9 regardless of the reason he was being arrested, he was handcuffed, not fighting back , on the ground and the dog was still biting him. The officer had no control over the dog at all. It made me think of the black and white Civil Rights videos I saw growing up when the dogs were attacking black people for no reason. There are so many videos of blacks being mistreated, and hashtags of victims who have been murdered by police it's beyond heart breaking . Recently in the case of the murder of Philando Castile the cop was acquitted. A murder was live streamed and there was no punishment , that is a tragedy and its sickening and continues the injustice here in America. We wait for justice and it doesn't happen.
Poverty, unemployment, drugs, the school system lacking funds and credible teachers to educate students, single parent house-holds, little to no community funding, continue to create problems in communities nation wide . There are so many issues that one faces growing up dealing with these issues and some people go on to be great leaders and game changers and inspire others from the neighborhood. This only goes to show that your surroundings can either build you up, break you, or make you stronger.
There is a problem here in America where black men report that their job told them "The microwave and water fountain were for white only". Sad right? Racism is still alive! Let me make this clear as I have plenty of times before there is good and bad in all people including cops. It doesn't matter what race you are, if you're a good person or a bad person it shows through your heart , actions, and character. However, if your bad it shows too. The mass incarceration of black males is modern day slavery. Did you know in 2016 black males were still picking cotton at the Louisiana State Prison known as "Angola"(the country in Africa, from which many of the enslaved Africans came who worked on the former plantation that occupied this territory). Some prisoners get paid as little as two cents an hour.
The more we come together, build up ourselves and the communities the better we can be. Do not give up on yourselves. The stories that I've seen and heard from black males, my heart hurts for them. The fact that they feel as Michael B Jordan says " Being black in America is being in a tiny compressed box sinking in the bottom of the ocean with 10,000 pounds of pressure on you at all times". Listening to Marsha Ali say " The difference between black men and white men is black men move through the world playing defense". Keep these black males prayed up and uplifted. I put this Young Black America playlist together with songs from black hip hop artist whom are telling their stories, views, and experiences through music. I've also included some videos I think are important and should be viewed. No matter what we are all strong , we all face difficulty (males and females) but we have to face it and continue to push for greatness because Black Excellence is real.
It's currently 4:35 A.M I should wait until 4:44 to start writing about how enlightening, transparent, didactic, and epic Jay Z 's 4:44 album is. Jay Z released his thirteenth solo album June 30,2017 on his music streaming company TIDAL exclusively to Sprint customers. In January Sprint invested $200 million in TIDAL. As a proud TIDAL subscriber and Sprint customer I was ecstatic when I heard the news. The album is produced by NO I.D and Jay Z . The ten track release features Gloria Carter (his mother ) , Frank Ocean, Beyonce and Damian Marley. The album includes samples from The Alan Parsons Project, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Hannah Williams & The Affirmations, Sister Nancy, Jacob Miller & Inner Circle, Fugees, Notorious B.I.G, Quarteto 1111, Donny Hathaway, Raekwon, Toto La Momposina, and Sylvia. Jay Z also released some visual clips to accompany the exclusive release including Adnis, MaNYfacedGod, Kill Jay Z , The Story Of O.J, and The Story Of O.J Footnotes . The Story of O.J Footnotes was super interesting. The video features clips from celebs like Chris Rock, Michael B Jordan , Kendrick Lamar, Mack Wilds , Marsha Ali, Will Smith , Lil Rel and more . These men discussed racism , switching up the system, slavery, being black , success, and how there's so much pressure on black men. That impact of that video shed light on so many issues that black males face but at the same time inspires them to surpass and exceed even with the bad cards they may have been dealt .
The 4:44 album is fundamental and sincere. Jay Z released the meaning behind each song a to give listeners insight on each track. Jay Z opened up about his career, the ups and downs of his marriage to Beyonce and falling short as a husband , his childhood , his search to find God, his children , the system , investing , love, growth , business , phoniness in the industry , and surviving no matter how hard it gets . As a mogul Jay Z has conquered both the music and business world . His song "Legacy" is highly important. Not only is Jay Z a super star , he also is a husband and a father . As a young black woman, I discuss with my mom and grand-mom how important it is to have a legacy . In a lot of other cultures children continue their family business that their family owns. In some cultures it's tradition. However in the black community legacies really aren't thought about as much because surviving at the moment is hard enough. In some cases it's a let's make it through point A so we can get to point B and we'll figure out the rest from there kind of situations . In reality when you launch a business and begin to generate wealth in high levels , it changes the whole dynamic of family and takes you to new heights . I think we all should want to leave a legacy, own instead or renting or borrowing , and invest so that our future generations have better opportunities and foundations to stand on . Jay Z and Beyonce have created a way for their family to eat and be taken care of for years to come ( #WhatsBetterThanOneBillionaire? Two)
The album titled track "4:44" discussed Jay Z and Beyonce's separation , his unfaithfulness, apologizing , and wanting to be a better father and be the husband she needs . Beyonce opened up about her pain and damage on her "Lemonade" album and Jay Z confirmed it on this track. Beyonce is an incredibly beautiful mother, wife, singer , and business women . Yet they are both human. They go through obstacles that we face too. I'm just happy that they were able to work their marriage out despite the hurt . Throughout the album Jay discusses his transformation from Marcy Projects in New York to fame, yet Marcy is always a part of him and that no matter his "financial" accomplishments he is STILL BLACK!. He incorporated all of his maturity , rough times , adversities , and happiness to make this ten track album . He even quoted Shakespeare's "Hamlet" Act 4 , Scene 5 with Claudius and Ophelia "Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be". In the Story Of O.J Footnotes Jay said "I had a strong belief in my talent ". So even though his life wasn't the way he wanted it to be as a child, he knew good things were going to happen in the future . "BAM" is another favorite of mine on the album in particular the line when Jay says "I'll line you all up with one finger wave , Make n***** weave, n***** is out here fake , Laced front to the back, don't front . Y'all gonna make me wig, I'ma give y'all what you want". The way he flowed that was just so dope! As of yesterday 4:44 has already reached Platinum status . I had a feeling it would, so I waited to write this review . Also I had a feeling some more content would be released and I was right. Jay Z has planned to release physical copies of the album which features bonus tracks . One of the bonus tracks is "Blue’s Freestyle/We Family" which features Blue Ivy rapping a few bars. She's the daughter of two of the top entertainers in the world, so boom shaka laka music in her genes. The new big sister to the Carter twins sounds adorable on her daddy's song . I can't wait to hear the full track. Beyonce also blessed the album with her amazing vocals on Family Feuds. He also released a 4:44 visual . All in all Jay Z spoke on numerous topics and also took the time to speak on issues of the industry. This album is definitely a guide and gives you a new perspective on Shawn Carter "Jay Z" . Life is all about making mistakes, trusting God, loving what he's given you and not risking losing it or taking it for granted, beating the system and not letting life's obstacles hinder you , and success not just in money or fame but being good at heart, honesty, and using your life to build , make a way for others, and leave a legacy. Congrats to the Carters. I really enjoyed the 4:44 album.
Jay Z inspired me when he said “Every human being has genius level talent, there are no chosen ones, God has gave everyone genius level talent, you just have to find what your good at, and Tap into it". So much so I designed a shirt with "Genius Level Talent" on it!