Two years ago, Jay-Z performed a freestyle in a New York venue named Terminal 5. This was soon after the debut of his streaming service titled “Tidal”. When Tidal came out it received many negative views. Fans were not pleased with the idea of paying a $20 subscription fee to exclusively see and hear their favorite artist who they had most likely been streaming for free before. This freestyle was Jay-Z’s response to all the backlash. He starts off the freestyle with the lines:
“So I’m the bad guy now I hear, because I don’t go with the flow?
Don’t ever go with the flow, be the flow.”
Jay-Z received a lot of backlash when all he wanted to do was offer a streaming service that would represent the artist under it and make sure they got their correct cut. Why should he receive hate for only wanting to do the right thing, right? As a business professioanl you may recieve backlash for what you feel is the right thing to do, but the excellent advice he offers is to not go with the flow, but to be the flow. He contiunes:
“Google dangled around a crazy check
I feel like Youtube is the biggest culprit
Them n—– pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get
You know n—– die for equal pay right?
You know when I work I ain’t your slave right?
You know I ain’t shucking and jiving and high fiving
You know this ain’t back in the days right?
But I can’t tell, how the way they killed Freddie Gray right
Shot down Mike Brown how they did Tray right?”
All of the lyrics mentioned can be further explained here.
You know I came in this game independent right?
Tidal, my own label, same difference
Oh n—- is skeptical when it’s their own shit
You bought nine iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich
Phil Knight worth trillions you still bought those kicks
Spotify is nine billion they ain’t say s—
Here Jay-Z raps about how many people criticize him for the “exepnsive” price of Tidal yet supporting other companies that use the same tactics. He explains that people have no issue buying Apple IPhones and Nike shoes, which he alludes are known for being expensive, but complain about the price of Tidal. He ends that thought with the fact that Spotify and other streaming sites still haven’t changed their ways of “cheating” artists and offering them low royalty fees which resulted in certain artists pulling their music from the streaming site. He says that black people are often skeptical about other fellow black people’s ideas and creations, yet they don’t question non-blacks. Jay-Z goes on to say:
The only one they hating on look the same as you
That’s cool, I know they trying to bamboozle you
Spending millions on media trying to confuse you
I had to talk to myself, Hov you used to it
It’s politics as usual.
Here Jay-Z admits the ugly truth, the majority of people criticizing Jay-Z are black people. As a black person, sometimes there is this underlying crabs in a barrel type mentality. This reminds me of D’jango Unchained the character Stephen was a black slave who always told on his fellow slaves to get in good with the white slave owners. He turned on his own people to impress those who did not even see him as their equal. Stephen was created because there are people like Stephen to this day. As a black business student, a running joke among us is that you won’t see many people like you in your classes. It’s sad, but true. We need to uplift each other not see each other as compeition. As a black business professional you will have trying times where you may feel like you’re leaving your culture behind and trading in for a new one just to be accepted in business society. This is an issue that no one talks about. Jay-Z mentions that the only person getting backlash is him because he’s black and some black people do not want other fellow black people to prosper, but will support non-blacks doing the same exact thing.
He even goes on to say he doesn’t blame his fellow black people because he knows that the media , majority non black, has spent millions to ensure that he does not prosper. There are still racist people in high places that are going to try to thwart you every step of the way just because you are a minority. I will never understand the mentality ,but to them we have some nerve to even think that we could step in the same space as them. A popular saying in the black community is ” You have to work twice as hard as them ( non-blacks) just to get half of the credit.”
He then finishes the freestyle saying that he’s used to it because after all this is politics as usual. To some this may seem as him accepting it, but I take this as him saying he doesn’t care what they say about him, people are going to talk, and he’s still going to try to build his own company. Here we are two years later and ,amongst all the controversy, Tidal still stands.
As a future black business professional it is unrealistic to assume you will be treated like everyone else. That goes for any minority, but you should still try to be successful regardless of what anyone says about your dream or how many times others try to discredit your name. In my opinion, there should be a class or at least a seminar taught for minorities preparing themselves for the business world about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will speak more on this next time you tune in time for Taylor.