Our class discussion this past week was on Jayz’s “444” album and the way in which Jay Z discusses and drops GEMs about financial freedom. 444 has a few themes in the album: Jay responds to Beyonce’s “Lemonade” by explaining and apologizing for his infidelity along with explaining his journey into manhood. In addition, Jay lays out a blueprint for Black people on how to accumulate wealth from some of the experiences he has learned as a Black rapper. Lastly, Jay encourages Black people to work as a community and highlights the importance of collective impact.
In this particular class we focused on the message behind 444 as it pertains to economic inequality, wealth and access. We focused on the following: Tone as a way of empowering, disempowering, or shaming, how language can be used as a form of liberation, and we decolonized wealth, equity, and the politics of economics as it is portrayed as throughout media within the United States.
In the song “The Story of O.J.” Jay discusses the importance of investments and the focus on purchasing expensive investment products such as expensive arts and apartments in Dumbo. We did an comparative analysis between the “Story of O.J.” and his 1998 song “Money aint a thing”. Although there was an evolution of Jay’s lyric there is still a focus on buying expensive products but a shift between buying expensive things that hold no value to ones that grow in value and ultimately result in equity.
All in all, this class session allowed us to unpack wealth and wealth inequality as it is portrayed in the media. We asked some challenging questions as it relates to access. Who has access to wealth? How does the intersection of race and class show up in Jay’s lyrics? How does the “haves” create barriers for the “have nots” to become dependent on a system that does not represent us?