I listened to Jay-Z’s “History/Victory” (whatever) almost exclusively over the past weekend only giving way to the occasional run through of Kanye’s leaked tracks thus far. This all came about by wanting to have something new to bump on the way to the club on Friday, coupled with driving around aimlessly/waiting forty minutes to get out of an over-packed parking lot that rivaled rush hour traffic. While still feeling the effects of a good nights worth of drinks, the lyrical content and complexity of his words clicked. While Hov gets criticized for the simplicity of his rhymes as of late, it’s hard to fault him for this song.
Sure he put this out while many were reveling in Obama’s historic victory. But outside of maybe the closing lines, this is about Jay coming to terms about what his own place in Hip-Hop history will be. He looks into the internal drive that fuels one to greatness and needs to keep focus when early fame and money can sidetrack you from greater heights. The way he personifies death, success, history, defeat, and victory is exquisite and begs to be dissected and analyzed the way we do for work by the likes of Thoreau and Whitman.
Back when I was in 9th grade we had to do a project where we used music lyrics to find literary devices like metaphors, similes, personification, and what not. I used The Score since it was heavy in my rotation at the time. My teacher pulled me aside and told me she was pleasantly surprised how I (and others in the class) was able to find all the devices in Rap music. Since music is an oral art form, the lyrics aren’t always given their proper due (especially Hip-Hop) and it makes me wonder how the art form we know and love will be perceived by future generations Will the words of our favorite artist’s be looked at and respected for the weight of their words or will they brush it off as noise that pacified a generation? I believe it can be the former, as I’ve seen how Hip-Hop can be viewed through different eyes when in written form.
Véronique Sanson – Une Nuit sur son épaule (Sample source for “History”)
Previously Posted — Jay-Z – “History” (Full/CDQ)