"Mike Jordan of Rap"

At some point in the not-too-distant past, Kanye Zest dubbed himself as the "Mike Jordan of rap" at some point in his career.
I thought about this for some reason yesterday/last night while I was out and about and went more in on it as the evening progressed and it came to me that he was actually being his normal full of shit self when he said that, and that Jay-Z was actually the rightful "Mike Jordan of Rap," not Kanye...
After noticing that he (Jay-Z) was totally absent from the Hip Hop Honors last night, I was in the shower last night and I was thinking "well damn, I might have a point there."
[Phlip note - a LOT of what I think about in the shower realizes blog infamy, just for the record]
Sure, Kanye meant it as to say that he was the greatest of all time, which flies in the face of those who did it before him and who will come along to do it after him. Of course, being that we're all stupid fucking consumers, we were supposed to not notice the bad things that came with such parallels drawn. I pay attention to details, though, so I will not be missing these.

I will qualify this with the MAJOR awards given, neverminding the little ones that no one really cares about.

Jordan - 10 NBA scoring titles, 5NBA regular season MVP awards, 6 NBA championships (6 finals MVP awards), 2 Olympic Gold Medals and 1 NCAA National Championship.
Referred to by damn near everyone chosen to discuss the subject as "the best player ever."

Jay-Z - 8 Grammy Awards (note that only one was "Best Rap Album"), 11 #1 albums, and 11 platinum albums.
Refers to himself as "the best rapper alive."

"Rocks at the Throne"
Jordan - On the upswing of his career was forced to deal with the "old" league, where if someone wanted to make a name, they'd better be prepared to take a punch. When David Stern took the reins and saw it as a huge business and recognized his cash cow, the rules changed to become Jordan-centric. Jordan fourished.
On the first part of the downside, parity returned with Jordan still coming out on top while the Reggie Millers and Byron Russells of the league went at his neck. On the utter backside of his career, we saw every young buck -- Iverson comes to mind immediately -- trying their damndest to get a piece of the old man with weakening knees wearing two braces.

Jay-Z - Benefits from, for a time, having been legitimately better than his peers once he could escape the shadow of the individual he claimed to be a mentor -- even if no one could prove that -- after their untimely passing. Fickle things, though, the US Listening Public can be. Success was marginal in the beginning, but the absence of the aforementioned "mentor" hastened the trajectory into the public conscious. Once there, it was on him to stay there, and credit for having done so is due. Rap is a funny thing, very similar to wrestling, where a certain Ric Flair often repeated To be the man, you gotta beat the man, WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! and damn if people didn't try as best they could. On the other side of this, see the outcomes, the grammy awards, the sales and all that goodness. I guess there is some speakable claim to the title of the "best" due with the numbers.

All things considered, when comparing the body of their work, Jay-Z is the "Michael Jordan of this rap shit," as he claimed.
The problem with that is that Jay-Z forgot to notice things like the fact that the Bulls could have taken another title or 2 if it was TRULY Jordan's will... Rodman was stated to have said that he would only stay as long as Phil Jackson did, who said he would only stay as long as Jordan did.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it...

For all the posturing and power Jay-Z gathered at the helm of Roc-A-Fella, he was far and away the only artist on the WHOLE label groomed for success. This makes sure that EVERYONE else around, whether they claim to be equals (Biggs, Dame) or subordinates (more on them in a minute) abso-fucking-lutely NEEDED him. The problem with this is that it causes one to come off to be oozing with pretense and arrogance. Needless to say, Roc-A-Fella split, Dame Dash did reality TV on Black Embarrassment Television and no one knows WHERE the fuck Kareem Burke is, do they?

In the aftermath of this all, Jordan's legacy was cemented, even if that of those around him had nothing going for them except for stories that include "well, when Jordan and I were teammates..." and the same can be said for EVERYONE who came into contact with Jay.

Beast in the field, Bust in the office
I wish I didn't have to say this, but it seems that the last REAL genius at their craft who would go on to be a master judge of talent of whom to employ was Miles Davis, and even he fucked that up at times by being what I am to understand was an enormous asshole (stories have it that he slapped the shit out of Coltrane more than once).

Jordan - as an executive with the Washington Wizards, drafter Kwame Brown first overall, a decision made to look stupid when one realizes that Pau Gasol was drafted third in the same draft. I will cop that the draft in itself was overall pretty weak. The failure of the Kwame Experiment has left cheese eyes (word to Linwood Jenkins) a bit gun-shy, which has since cost the Wizards -- and now since -- the Charlotte Bobcats in the old over/under.
In protection of his legacy, though, Jordan still makes over 40mil a year from Nike making sure that schoolchildren are still beaten up over sneakers that have now crested $230 a pair.

Jay-Z - Gave Memphis Bleek a MOUNTAIN of push, all of which could have gone to any number of better rappers (Sauce Money) or even singers (Christion) who were also situated under his umbrella at the time. Furthered the fuckery by employing an in-the-lull-of-their-prime Dipset, went further into the fuckery by steering the ship that was once the great and mighty Def Jam into the shithole that it is now helming the ruin of the career of a certain Joe Budden because he just didn't like the guy, but employing such household names as Ace Hood, Fast Lyfe Yungstas, Jeremih, Lil Ru, The-Dream and various other steaming piles of shit.
In the protection of his own legacy, though, at a time where Def Jam was crumbling among itself, he made sure to make sure that Kingdom Come, arguably the worst album he ever made, was promoted well enough to get a #1 debut, so he could claim to have done SOMETHING other marry Bey-non-sang.

Jordan - More than just an executive with the Wizards, was a bit of a player/boss as well. We got to see Jordan play the role of "human being," averaging "only" 21ish points while icing his knees during the garbage time of blowout losses. We were allowed to see parity in that "the next Jordan" was no longer the albatross of those it was bestowed upon, rather it was an attainable goal. In such, we were granted the opportunity to see that since-banned crossover worked on him, we were granted the likes of Kobe, D-Wade and Queen James entering the league and actually PERFORMING in the "next" role, instead of Harold Minor/Vince Carter-ing in it. Wait a minute, what happens to the best when they cease to matter anymore because a newer, faster, stronger model comes about?
Fuuuuuck, ask Oscar Robinson and Dr. J...
Jordan was JUST that to them, no? As it were, Jordan's sons will only be able to ride genes to be able to PLAY basketball and look like the best player ever (so far), but will not be able to parlay that into BECOMING the next "best."
Where MJ can take solace is that he DID come through a league where physical contact was not stifled UNTIL him, and still excelled. Those to come since him have never seen that in their own forward motion. That being said, he could excel in THEIR league more than they could his.

Jay-Z - More than just the president of Def Jam, he was also the top artist. Being the HNIC as well as the star of the show presents a HUGE conflict in interest amounting to basically one huge ass vanity label on which your own product is the only one that gets effective burn, everyone else had damn sure better get their on real ability. In such, Kanye and Rihanna would have success based on the abilities of Kanye in general and the writing of The-Dream on "Umbrella," not on ANYTHING Jay-Z put into motion. Meanwhile, lesser rappers made better music. Seriously, who in the FUCK would have honestly bought a Young Jeezy or Rick Ross album ANYTIME in the 90s?
Now everyone wants to take shots at the"Old Man/Joe Camel/Old-Timer/whatever" and it seems the in thing to do. All do so from the position of trying to get where he has been.
Jay-Z can take solace in having come from a time where one had to put it on the floor and make good music to get on. He then lived through a robust time where MEDIOCRE music sold well, but he was making good shit, so he sold astronmically, and now he is at that point where he has enough Stans to still sell shitty music well. We're seeing him icing down the knees these days, and it really is sad. There was a time where he made songs we consistently wanted to hear, but now he has to brag about "text messaging the president."

At the end of it all, there was a lot BAD about Michael Jordan in his personal life, what with the alleged philanderous behaviors (which had at least one woman he paid to shut up about a baby, but didn't and he wound up taking HER to court over it), the gambling and the fact that he is a raging and unapproachable asshole, worse than most other stars. Having been to one of his basketball camps as a kid, I am aware that he shows up only on the last day of the camp and all attendees are informed NEVER to approach him. At Bobcats' games or anywhere else in public, he is surrounded by a team of goons who will only allow those with a press pass, a camera and a microphone by.
It seems that all of that is ignored in favor of all the good he did, and understandably so given the total body of his work. This makes room for people to claim or even WANT to be the "Michael Jordan of..." without fully internalizing what exactly that means. Perhaps this is indicative of short sight on the part of those claiming. Why the fuck would I want to be "like" or even "the next" anything when I should strive to be better?

Given an objective comparison of accomplishments and shortfalls, relative to career of choice, Jay-Z is the Michael Jordan of his profession. Under a different set of circumstances, someone would be coming along waiting to call themselves "the Jay-Z of..." but alas Jay-Z was too concerned with himself. Fucked up, really, that someone could have a career as decorated as Jay's has been and still look at it and SERIOUSLY recognize that there could have been more. There again, though, Jordan himself retired early TWICE, leaving a lot on the table.

There again, there are a lot of things that people should not aspire to be like, for instance "the Freddie Mercury of rap," or perhaps even the "Stanley Wilson of rap." Sure, legacies matching to the point where the shortfalls will be swept under the rug and largely ignored? I could go for one of those for myself. I am sure Jay-Z would go for that too.


Tony Grands said…
"The Freddie Mercury of rap"-Kanye West, indeed.
Phlip said…
Holy shit, Grands!!!
I WROTE this blog and didn't think of that!
I swear to the stars, I didn't even CONSIDER that glowingly ironic joke as I wrote that last night!
Obviously you know I'm a huge fan. I'm not saying anything in the post is not true, but it really is a "glass is half empty" approach to both careers. I personally don't like to dwell on the negatives of people's careers that are obviously such enormous success even if you don't like 100% of the moves they've made. Sure Kingdom Come was terrible. I'll be the first to admit it. But to say that American Gangster, and BP3 are mediocre sounds to me like someone looking to nitpick. American Gangster is a better album IMO then In my Lifetime Vol1 and probably 3.

It's interesting to me that you said yourself that BP3 is Good but not great. Since when is a "Good" album bad? Does he ACTUALLY need to release a classic every time for you to show him respect? No it's not BP 1, but it's far better then Roc La Familia that he released at probably the absolute peak of his popularity. If that can be pin pointed.

And what's wrong with being a fan of someone even if they stumble here and there?

Fuck it call me a stan. I support good music. Someone who has released probably more classic (not just good, but classic. And not including those "good" albums) albums then maybe anyone in in hip hop history.

Yep. I'll continue to support Jay-Z.
Phlip said…
I call it comparison against someone's own body of work.
The gift and the curse, really (hey, there's another of those shitty albums!)
I never said that BP3 was a bad album, nor did I say that American Gangster was. Fact remains, though, that when you have a career with 3 classic albums, anything short of great is substandard. Not a classic every time, and respect has been earned based on previous body of work, but to continue to play down to the market hurts that respect. A parallel would AGAIN be Jordan in Washington. No one can take the championships from him or deny him the Hall of Fame, but damn if he wasn't hurting the view of his history with it. And for what?

Culpability was the reasoning for this blog. Look, I don't have to like 100% of the moves anyone makes (lord knows I am STILL pissed at Common over this last 2 albums now). Where on this planet is it ever acceptable to stand by and look the other way when someone is hustling backwards?

I'm definitely calling you a Stan on this one. Not because you're supporting good music, but more because you're propping up mediocre-at-best music as "good" and merely-"good" music as "great." No one wanted to see Jordan in the double knee braces any more than they wanted to see Ali getting touched the fuck up and jaw broken at the end of his career. No one wants to see Jay-Z return to the realm of mere mortals.
Except, apparently Jay-Z.
Mel aka Exitspeed said…
To say I don't want Jay-Z to get back up his peak that he once was at is not a correct assumption. When i first heard AG and BP3, as much as I liked both instantly I knew they weren't quit what I was expecting. They weren't BP1 or Reasonable Doubt. But they were def better then some of his others. I then also think...what's the alternative? Complete garbage that couldn't even hang with Jay's worst shit, Kingdom Come (and I don't think you should consider it "arguably" his worst album. It's pretty much fact)? Or hardly listening to any new hip hop at all?

I dunno, I know you loved Slaughter House and we've talked about it's faults, but as nice as the lyrics were, they just didn't grab my attention like Jay-Z did some 13 years ago. You know the whole thing about making first impressions...Obviously Jay made a damn good one of me. Kanye did too. So did NERD. Even Wayne when I was listening to him when he was like 13 or whatever.

NO ONE else is doing that for me right now.

So I guess I don't have a problem being a stan or admitting when I'm being one when it's someone that I respect so much musically. Because the alternative is a lot worse.

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