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Sunday Song Lyric:
The retirement of Shawn Corey Carter, better known as Jay-Z — the self-proclaimed "Michael Jordan of recordin'" and "Rap's Grateful Dead" — was quite short-lived. His comback album, Kingdom Come, almost sounds as if he never left the game. It has a few weak spots — and lacks a good exam hypo — but still features Jay-Z'ss trademark flow.

The biggest change is not Jay'Z's flow, but his maturity. Several tracks are traditionally boastful routines, but now Jay-Z disses those who lack his experience and wisdom ("thirty is the new twenty"), not just his record sales and bling. He may be getting older, but he's getting better ("I'm just getting better with time; I'm like Opus-One") — and he's definitely richer ("what you call money I pay more in taxes"). From "30 Something":

I know everything you wanna do
I did all that by the age of twenty-one
By twenty-two, I had that brand new Ac' coupe
I guess you could say that my legend just begun, I'm
Young enough to know the right car to buy
Yet grown enough not to put rims on it
I got that six-deuece with curtains, so you can't see me
And I didn't even have to put tints on it
I don't got the bright watch, I got the right watch
I don't buy out the bar, I bought the nightspot
I got the right stock, I got
Stockbrokers that's movin' it like white tops
Jay-Z also turns serious and somewhat reflective at points, on issues large and small. In "Minority Report" — his take on Hurricane Katrina.
People was poor before the hurricane came
But the down pour poured is like when Mary J. sang
Every day it rains, so every day the pain
But ignored them, and showed em the risk was to blame
For life is a chain, cause and effected
***** off the chain because they affected
It's a dirty game so whatever is effective . . .

Left 'em on they porches same old story in New Orleans
Silly rappers, because we got a couple Porches
MTV stopped by to film our fortresses
We forget the unfortunate
Sure I ponied up a mill, but I didn't give my time
So in reality I didn't give a dime, or a damn
I just put my monies in the hands of the same people that left my people stranded
Nothin' but a bandit
Left them folks abandoned
Damn, that money that we gave was just a band-aid
On another track, "Kingdom Come," Jay-Z justifies his decision to stop buying and promoting Cristal:
**** Cristal, so they ask me what we drinking
I thought dudes remark was rude okay
So I moved on to Dom and Krug Rose
And it's much bigger issues in the world, I know
But I first had to take care of the world I know
Colin (mail):
Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, the Chicago Sun Times/Tribune pop music critics, gave the album a lot less respect.
1.21.2007 2:46pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Perhaps so, but most reviews appear to have been fairly positive, and even DeRogatis' print review found "30 Something" to be the album's "most interesting track."

JHA
1.21.2007 3:24pm
Colin (mail):
True. If I recall the review correctly (I'm working the weekend and can't call up the audio), they were mostly disappointed that it didn't live up to its promise.

I discovered Sound Opinions a while back, and I've really enjoyed their commentary and criticism.
1.21.2007 3:45pm
Big Bill (mail):
Yo! Yo! I wanna give a shout out to Helen Vendler. Helen, my main ho, when you gonna get down wit da hood 'n' us homies here at Volokh and review some hip-hop for my main man DJ Jon Adler? Boy needs some hep. Nome sane?
1.21.2007 6:42pm
AK (mail):
Ah, time yet again for Sunday Copyright Violation Song Lyric.
1.21.2007 7:13pm
lo9emie (mail):
True. If I recall the review correctly (I'm working the weekend and can't call up the audio), they were mostly disappointed that it didn't live up to its promise.

I discovered Sound Opinions a while back, and I've really enjoyed their commentary and criticism.

1.22.2007 4:20am
Colin (mail):
That's weird. Assuming the mimic is a form of comment spam, I don't get who benefits. What's the point of inserting just an email address into a thread? Isn't the usual goal to *extract* email addresses?
1.22.2007 9:48am
Birdman2 (mail):
Why are Jay-Z lyrics worth VC discussion?
1.22.2007 11:19am
anonVCfan:
"worth VC discussion" = VC poster feels like posting about it
1.22.2007 4:41pm
Birdman2 (mail):
"worth VC discussion" = VC poster feels like posting about it"

If this is true, it's tautological, but unless the word "worth" is defined in a strange way, the proposition seems untrue.
1.22.2007 6:02pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Birdman2 --

Most Sundays I post a song lyric that I find topical or interesting for one reason or another. The latest index is here. Some weeks it's a classic, others not.

So you know, There have been some discussions about rap lyrics since the earliest days of the VC when Michelle Boardman blogged on the virtues of Eminem (see here and here), and Jay-Z inspired a series of posts on the use of pop culture in exam hypos and law school lyrics.

Some readers love the SSLs -- I probably get more e-mails about that than anything else -- but others clearly don't. If you don't think a given lyric is worth discussion, then don't discuss it. If you think I should post something else, I'm always open to suggestions.

JHA
1.22.2007 6:25pm
triticale (mail) (www):
Rap's Grateful Dead? That's an interesting claim. There were a number of things which distinguished the Dead from other bands.

Does he have a loyal following mocked by the fans of other performers?
Does he welcome taping of his performances?
Is his tour a locus of drug distribution?

As a solo performer it can't be that his music is the result of interaction between people with differing musical backgrounds and interests.
1.22.2007 8:40pm