Why America Will Never Understand Jay Z Like We Do [Opinion]

The Hip Hop industry loves Jay Z but the rest of the world is still stuck on the earlier sound.

Will America ever understand the greatness of Jay-Z?
Robb Cohen / Invision/AP Images

The Hip Hop industry loves Jay Z but the rest of the world is still stuck on the earlier sound.

Maybe, just maybe America was ready to embrace Hip Hop artist Shawn Carter aka Jay Z. Not so fast there Jay. Even with eight Grammy nominations for a stellar album (some say his best work ever), it wasn’t his time. And the truth is, it may never be.

Jay’s music has never been for the average music fan. In his early stages, the music was as dark as it gets with tales of drug dealing and violence, but we understood it. As Jay Z has grown and explored the world, his music added another element. The hood slang is still present but so are talks of social awareness, political stances, art, and now family. It’s the latter in which 4:44 so unique.

What happened at the Grammy’s between Bruno Mars and Jay Z reminded me of what happened at the 2002 Oscars between Will Smith and Denzel Washington. While Washington played a great character in Training Day, it was Smith’s portrayal as Muhammad Ali in Ali that should have taken home the Oscar that year. You see, with Bruno and “24k Magic,” this is what America and his fans have come to expect. With Jay, he finally brought us into his personal world. The insight offered something different from the norm where it wasn’t about drug deals, regrets, and fast women but more about his wife, kids, mother, and personal differences with friends.

  Charles Sykes / Invision/ AP Images

Kudos to Bruno Mars for winning Album, Record, and Song of the Year over Jay which, according to Washington Post, just proves how Hip Hop continues to be snubbed. But I have to know what songs were they listening to? Like what were the Oscars voters watching when they saw a crazy, untrustworthy, and dirty L.A. cop compared to one of the greatest American icons in history? Denzel played a fictional character while Smith nailed the very human Ali.

Who knows if Bruno really slides into a club with 15 people dancing to theme music. However, what we took away from Jay Z with songs like “4:44,” “Smile,” and “Family Feud” gave us what we never had before in most artists, honesty. When a person tends to drift off into another realm with their acting or music, it normally gets the side-eye at first. Bruno has stuck to what has made him as big as he is. Jay, to his real fans, has always been an enigma. He’s married to one of the most popular people in the world in Beyonce, however, outside of his earlier dealings in the street, many know very little about Shawn Carter himself.

For once, we were given a glimpse inside his marriage. Jay as a father, a son, and a friend. Yes, it was different but that’s what made his album so precious. Looking over some of the lyrics between the two, how did “24k Magic” outshine those in “The Story of O.J.”?

“24k lyrics”:

Pop pop, it’s show time (Show time)
Show time (Show time)
Guess who’s back again?
Oh they don’t know? (Go on tell ’em)
Oh they don’t know? (Go on tell ’em)
I bet they know soon as we walk in (Showin’ up)
Wearing Cuban links (ya)
Designer minks (ya)
Inglewood’s finest shoes (Whoop, whoop)
Don’t look too hard
Might hurt ya’self
Known to give the color red the blues

“The Story of O.J.” lyrics:

Financial freedom my only hope
F*** livin’ rich and dyin’ broke
I bought some artwork for one million
Two years later, that s*** worth two million
Few years later, that s*** worth eight million
I can’t wait to give this s*** to my children
Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine
But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99
I turned that 2 to a 4, 4 to an 8
I turned my life into a nice first week release date
Y’all out here still takin’ advances, huh?
Me and my n***** takin’ real chances, uh
Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear
There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah

The difference in the lyrics are astounding at best. One is referencing club hopping while the other is talking about investments. But I get it, most people are clubbing with no real thought about their or their kid’s future. Normally, you would see Jay put a verse to 24k but 4:44 gave us something different. As I stated, his fans understand but the masses won’t. Eight nominations and Jay Z walks away with nothing in the eyes of America. However, to us (his fans), we already dubbed 4:44 as the Album of the Year the moment it dropped. We were just hoping everyone else came along for the ride.

Nevermind my words, Jay Z said it best on “Kill Jay Z”;

Kill Jay Z, they’ll never love you
You’ll never be enough, let’s just keep it real, Jay Z

Just keep doing what you doing Jay, we’ll always have your back.