I hate to sound like the grumpy old man, but more and more everyday I’m becoming the grumpy old man. Entertainment is subjective, so please understand this is just my personal opinion… I’ll take drug dealer rap over drug user rap any day! I’ve never sold drugs or been a drug user, and while not condoning the former, I admire the discipline and integrity it typically took for drug dealers to rise in the ranks and in wealth more so than the constant carelessness drug user rap displays. I can relate to the emotion of paranoia that came with not wanting to be a failure financially. Not to mention, when done exceptionally, most drug dealer rap gives you both sides, not just parties, girls and material gain it also gives you the heartache. Drug user rap mostly, from my perspective, gives you a false sense of reality like the very drugs being used. So imagine my delight a few nights ago when two of the most cerebral architects of drug dealer rap, Jay Z and Pusha T, took a walk thru their memory and crafted such drug dealer motion pictures that they would rival Scorsese. Or for that matter, Federico Fellini. I was like a kid on Christmas. Let’s dissect it.
Pusha T, native of Virginia, has become one of my top 5 favorite rappers of all time over the years which also thrusts him into my top rappers from the south. Just from a southern aspect, I put him in the realm of Scarface, Both Outkast members Big Boi and Andre 3000, Cee Lo Green, and Trick Daddy. I put him number 2 amongst them, behind only Mr. Brad Jordan. What he brings to rap is a gift for articulation and vocabulary that has often been the metaphorical Achilles’ heel of southern rap while also having the edginess, style and trendsetting ability that’s always been a staple of southern hip-hop. He has the total package for an MC. The voice, star power, lyrical ability, flow, beat selection, originality and most important to most… authenticity. “I can’t even mention what I sent or what I spent because my name in 18 wheelers is evidence” is a clear example of this. Such linear bars depict real life without coming off as folklore. It’s not flamboyant and extravagant. It reeks of quiet paranoia and caution. It lets you know he’s still cognizant of what could still be taken to trial. What could be tied to him or possibly incriminate others. The carefulness is admirable. In a time where rappers and members of their entourage have been indicted based off of rap lyrics, Pusha lets us know that while he’s sharing his story, his story is real and can still be used against him. Which is more important than a few more street cred points by him being too boisterous.
Now what can I say about Shawn Corey Carter aka Jay Z that hasn’t been said already? Not much. For 20 years he’s been recalling the life he had prior in such a manner he’s widely considered the Greatest of All Time. But in an era with the attention span of a toddler, it is often lost on popular opinion how good Jay Z is. Hip- Hop has always been a young man’s game, until Jay Z got older. This verse is a master’s class on rhyme writing as he reminds everybody quite frankly… who’s the master. “Federico Fellini in the Flesh” is such a brilliant metaphor perfectly timed. I admit, I didn’t know of Mr. Fellini prior to this verse, which is also a part of Jay Z’s genius. He’s always introduced legends from outside of our culture in a sense to our culture. So after hearing it and researching him I learned that Federico Fellini is only regarded as one of the most influential film makers and screenwriters of all time. So the comparison is perfect. Take into account how I opened this paragraph and you can clearly see why this metaphor is so effective. Hov goes on to weave in and out of the dark multi-layered beat’s crevices to tell you about his history. From hopping from the underworld of the drug game to being in London at 19 in a Benz (with Big Daddy Kane). Even tells you that the proof is online if you need it “Google’s your friend bruh”. The 14 year drug dealer, as chronicled by Tomi Lahren the online news anchor, almost drives you out of the 80’s and thru the 90’s until president day when he tells you his biggest struggle possibly has been skillfully becoming successful “on the books” and credits the wizardry of his accountant with being the best asset of all. “He Been Hoola-hooping thru loopholes, working ‘round shit”. As the movie starts coming to an end you can find Hov telling you how he’s excelled so much that he’s passed the pack as it’s summarized by businessman Hov giving you stock tips “Yall think Uber’s the future, our cars been autonomous”.
Filled with double entendres and intricate rhyme patterns that after 20+ listens I’m still figuring it out, Drug Dealers Anonymous gives me everything I desire from rap. It was beautifully executed and long overdue. Now we just need King Push and whatever Hov’s next album will be called to complete the puzzle. I’m the grumpy old man, but I know there’s a host of other people with similar lineage in this thing of ours called Hip-Hop that felt just as refreshed as I did hearing this. We just like what we like! Drug Dealers Anonymous.