“We made it from the slaves on a slave ship, live from the cotton field, straight to the spaceship.”
You may have forgotten Jay Electronica was an artist on Jay Z‘s Roc Nation label. You may have forgotten Jay Electronica was at one time the most highly-anticipated new rhymer in hip-hop. You may have even forgotten that Jay Z, when motivated, can flip words better than almost anyone who’s ever picked up a microphone. This morning, Jay & Jay offered a little reminder.
The emcees released the “We Made It” freestyle today (March 23), and it sounds like both the icon and the recluse felt like getting some things off of their respective chests. Rhyming over the beat from Drake‘s “We Made It,” the two waste no time unleashing some of the best bars thus far in 2014.
“The devils, the haters, the bloggers, the papers, they label me,” Jay Elect rhymes, acknowledging his critics before admitting that those who support him have been waiting a long time for music. “Apologies to all of my fans…”
His fire is still there, and his religious and political beliefs are still out front (“Lost sons of Muhammed, we wilding on the record.”), even though some of that righteous anger sounds a bit awkward coming from the guy who’s on the arm of billionaire heiress Kate Rothchild. But, hey, nobody is going to let that little bit of contradictory behavior stop them from jamming to lines like, “All these n—as I got to fight one, all these devils I got to strike some, all these rebels just waiting on the war cry, momma said, ‘Son you’ve got to strike drum'”
And then there’s Jay Z.
The elder Jay has taken flac for how he’s handled his wealth and how he’s handled things like last year’s Barney’s fiasco, but Hov still relishes his position as hip-hop’s most successful capitalist. And he drops several lines reminding everyone that he’s earned the right to boast a bit.
“I own my own masters. Now Iain’t missing no royalty statements,” he rhymes, adding later: “Silly me, rapping about s–t that I really bought. While these rappers rap about guns they ain’t shot and a bunch of other silly s–t they ain’t got.”
And with some references to the Nation of Islam’s devil-maker and Oscar winning actress Lupita N’yongo, Jay made sure to throw a little quasi-militant posturing onto the track.
“Yall hella jealous of my melatonin, I could black out at any given moment,” he says. “When my arms could be shackled, I still get paid. all praises due, I’m ready to chase yacub back to the cave. these are the last days, but do I seem phased? Show up to the last supper in some brand new J’s”
Is there hypocrisy hearing rappers who are dating the 1 percent (or who actually are the 1 percent), pretending to be bomb-throwing revolutionaries? Of course there is. But the subversiveness aside, the power in Jay & Jay’s verses is how they manage to evoke a sense of empowerment while acknowledging the precarious moral position both men seem to find themselves in. They can be rich and still have their eyes wide open. But none of that is neither here nor there. Because, ultimately, we just like the rhymes.
Man, it’s just good to hear these guys rap.
Check out “We Made It” here: