Poking a Hornets Nest for 444 Word
“OJ like: ‘I’m not black I’m OJ’/OK…’
Firstly, if you even mention the OJ Simpson case to me, you automatically have my full attention. Ever since I watched the astonishing ‘OJ: Made in America’ documentary (kayfabe) last year In have come to realise that the story of the trial is in fact the most important news story in America in the latter half of the 20th century*, narrowly beating Fabio getting hit by a goose in 1999 whilst on a rollercoaster at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg (I cannot stop referencing that incident). This is chiefly because I finally realised why he was nicknamed ‘The Juice’, and concluded that’s definitely the best nickname ever (again, narrowly beating Fabio, whose nickname later became ‘The Goose’). I have seriously watched the entire season maybe 10 times, and if I ever learned of a cinema showing its full 467 minutes run time in one sitting (which has been done in the past) I would run there faster than The Juice himself running to score a lineback overtime dunk (I’m still not sure what sport he played) or, if you prefer your similes to be a little fruitier, I would run there faster that OJ Simpson ran from [DELETED ON LEGAL ADVICE] after he [DELETED ON LEGAL ADVICE] in his [DELETED ON DATED REFERENCE ADVICE]. Ooooooh, you’re a saucy one, Alex!
The line at the top of this ‘review’ is from the man himself and quoted in one of many album highlights The Story of OJ.
The thing is…
#ClickBait (wait, is that one word…?)
In an ideal he would be right. And perhaps at the time of saying it he had truly accumulated the requisite wealth and fame for a black man not to be simply considered a black man in America, but as an actual individual human being. In a perfect world, Jay-Zed isn’t black, he’s ‘Jay-Zed’.
Race is an entirely cultural concept. Genetically, there is one tiny difference that determines your skin colour. That tiny difference motivates nothing else about your person. I like to think I’m closer to Mykki Blanco to Steve Bannon, and my skin colour doesn’t necessitate that I’m more likely to be more similar to the Cirrhosis Scarred Toad Tsar. My longstanding problems with alcohol and self-hatred might, granted, but not my skin colour
Your skin colour is in your genes, so (pay attention) it’s likely inherited from your parents. If both your parents had black skin, it’s extremely likely that you will have black skin too. Maybe your mother has type two diabetes and your father an offputtingly large chin. You might inherit both of those traits too. You will develop type 2 diabetes and have a chin that makes people hard to look you in the face while talking to you. This isn’t because you are black. This is because you’re a human.
There are population groups that share a high amount of genetic inheritance (which I think is scientific terminology for saying all their families were fucking each other)- like that Kenyan village that keeps shitting out long distance runners, or that Belgian town where each baby born was actually made of chocolate and subsequently eaten by their mother. I might have dreamt that first one. The Belgian story is legit though. When Jay-Zed was born, he was likely very genetically similar to his parents and his three brothers: Jay-Ex, Jay-Why, and Jason Puncheon. The problems start when he enters society…
The idea of race that we have today was, essentially, created by racists. Let’s not talk about slavery here- because to be honest I want to keep this is as light as a discussion by a pale privileged idiot can be- let’s just talk about cultural and societal chains (oooooooh, too close…) that people with whiter skin put on people with darker skin. Because, ridiculously, that’s all it amounts to! Jay-Z’s song is so powerful because it notes how that despite OJ’s success, when it all came down to it he was simply viewed as another ‘nigger’.
There is no such thing as race. However, we have created a thing we call race that is actually just skin colour, and have spent literally the entirety of our history insisting it’s a thing . Remember when I whined about the horrific representation of ginger people in the media? Well, imagine if on top of that people also considered people with ginger hair a different race of humans?!
Oh, and imagine if it was a thousand, million, squillion times worth.
Oh, and imagine if it often led to people killing ginger people simply because of this hideously perverted idea of their ‘race’.
You’d think because I see that race doesn’t actually exist that I would consider programs like affirmative action and enforced representation as pointless. Thing is, the racists have created a society with so many racist hoops to jump through (and occasionally racist bullets to dodge), with near constant (and often unintentional) racist barriers to overcome, that such things are unfortunately necessary. Us white people should be eternally ashamed that they are necessary, but they are necessary.
The racists have created an atmosphere that requires anti-racist legislation, and then of course the racists see no need for this anti-racist legislation. The racists are the oil companies filling the atmosphere with noxious gasses, then arguing that any measures to curb the spewing of their garbage isn’t needed, and actually a bit offensive, when you think about it…
To recap: race doesn’t exist, we created it and now must take as many measures as possible to counteract it.
You might have forgotten, but Jay-Zed actually released an album this year called ‘4:44’
which is both a consistently brilliant and lyrically fascinating look at one of the biggest and most respected rappers of his time accepting his middle age gracefully, along asking for forgiveness for past mistakes and sometimes being shockingly open about his past behaviour and the negative effect it was likely to have on those close to him (‘I apologise for all the stillborns cause I wasn’t present/Your body wouldn’t accept it). Hip-hop has so rarely seen such a introspective and thoughtful release from such a major star as he approaches middle age. This is probably because it’s such a new art form and as a result, and I’ve just checked this, no other big rapper is as old as Jay-Z!! Even freakin’ Snoop is 2 years younger! Dr Dre is 53, but he’s mainly a headphone manufacturer these days. Sure, he released an album a couple of years ago, but I’m just going of what a mate says, because literally nobody has ever heard that album.
And yes, you gossipmunchers, he does mention ‘Becky, whom we assume has above average coiffure, in order to play into the massive
that was the Greatest Album of the 21st Century, but this album is definitely not Jay-Zed’s ‘reaction’ to the infidelity exposed on that album (because it couldn’t be, because that infidelity never happened and ‘Lemonade’ was Be-Be gloriously working you idiots!) rather than Sean Carter taking the opportunity to consider and interpret his regrets over the actual mistakes, and occasional successes, he’s made in his life. Only, over some, like dope beats, yeah?
I mean, as an intelligent, nuanced and powerful dissection of both personal emotions and wider black identification it pales alongside his wife’s historic work of genius- which must smart a bit, come on!- but still, well done Jay-Z, you’re not embarrassingly inferior to your wife
Age: 48 (+14)
Album Length: 36 minutes (+10)
Do you think that rappers just automatically start making far shorter albums as they get older? I’m going to love rap’s middle age
Very Good Songs: 2 (+4)
Brilliant Songs: 8 (+40)
AMAZING Songs: 0
% of Album Worthwhile: 100
Oooooooh, if those final two tracks didn’t tail off slightly, we could have had our first ‘Perfect KO’, awarded to albums with 100% of songs rated at least ‘Brilliant’
Love it: simplistic, eye catching, and gives me an idea for future points awarded
Previous Entries: 2009 No.24, 2007 No.15
Album No: 13 (+39)
Meta Critic: 82
The Song 4:44 is Actually 4 Minutes and 44 seconds: +60
*Phew, don’t need to reopen that tired old ‘What was bigger: OJ Simpson or 9/11’ debate. Oh, a couple of planes knocked over your big building? Boo-fucking-hoo! Get over yourself