“There’s always a struggle, a striving for something bigger than yourself in all forms of art. And even if you didn’t achieve greatness—even if you fail, which we all must—everything you do in your work is somehow connected with your attitude toward life, your deepest secret feelings.”
Jay-Z [click here to read] has been at the forefront of hip-hop music for the last 13 years. In that time he has created a plethora of music that has transcended gender, economic, and racial lines all while being regarded by many as the greatest rapper of all time.
Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter began his career in the early 90s as the hype man to his mentor Jaz O. He soon would make a name for himself after dropping a memorable verse on Jaz’s breakout track ‘Hawaiian Sophie.’ Using a strong business sense, Jay would eventually align himself with hip-hop heavyweights such as the Notorious B.I.G., Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, and his future business partner Dame Dash [click here to read]. These connections would help lead to Jay’s classic debut ‘Reasonable Doubt’.
Jay-Z was one of the first hip-hop artists to take the music from a growing sub-culture to a mainstream norm.
Keeping the music authentic and honest while at the same time making it entertaining and classy was a formula that his friend the Notorious B.I.G. and Diddy had been in the process of mastering before B.I.G was murdered in 1997.
Following B.I.G.s death, Jay-Z not only took the torch, but blew out the fire and lit a fire so great that it changed the course of hip-hop music. Over the years, Jay-Z has released album after album—each one further carving out his legacy in music. Honest enough for the streets, but witty enough for Wall Street.
Above any other emcee, Jay-Z has played the largest role in taking hip-hop global. Many hardcore fans do not like hearing that, but the proof is in the soundscans. The 40-year-old emcee has sold approximately 30 million albums in the U.S. alone.
With all that has been said, I ask hip-hop fan this: Is it time for Jay-Z to hang up his microphone? I would have to say yes. Granted, he is still a very relevant fixture in the music scene and his music is still worth a listen, but the more we see of this new and incorporated Jay-Z, the more we lament on what once was.
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What do YOU think?! Should Jay-Z retire? Share your thoughts in the comments section!