Why Jay-Z's Evolution As A Person Is A Bigger Reward Than Any Grammy He Could Ever Win.
He's more awake than he's ever been.
Last week Sunday, January, 28th, 2018 marked the 60th annual Grammy music awards. One of the most nominated male artists was none other than, the already 21 Grammy Award-winning hip-hop icon, Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter, for his 2017 album "4:44."
After a legendary two decades of music-making, 14 #1 studio albums, with a combined 55 million in sales, 72 Top 100 Billboard hits (with 19 in the top 10), and a plethora of other awards and recognitions, social media went off after the rap legend lost out on all eight of his 2018 Grammy nominations to fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar. Jay-Z went home empty-handed…or did he? Though he didn't take home a tangible win on Sunday night, it seems that Jay-Z has definitely won something that is worth more than any golden gramophone.
"Empathy, "Compassion", "Karmic Debt", "Soulmate…" have been reoccurring themes in the Rap mogul's most recent interviews. The numbers 444, are known to be signifiers of someone who is aligned with their greatest purpose, and walking in their highest truth; it seems that conception of this album seems divinely inspired."
"4:44’ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song. So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song…one of the best songs I’ve ever written" says the lyricist.
It can be said, that there is no greater reward than fully understanding one's sole purpose. Still, in the current climate of mainstream music and popular culture, the success of an artist is measured by being the recipient of prestigious awards, and accolades. Artists are constantly pressured and dedicated to producing the best art, as recognized by award giants like the Grammys. It's not called "The Biggest Night in Music" for no reason. For artists in the hip-hop and urban music categories especially, winning a Grammy is a greatly sought-after achievement due to lack of representation in the music industry.
Like the Oscars, the Grammys have long time been accused of misrepresenting, or snubbing African American artists. For this reason, even Jay-Z himself has been known to boycott the award show.
In his recent acceptance speech for the "Industry Icon Award", at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala Celebration, Carter recalled the time he boycotted the Grammys for under-representing Hip Hop, not elevating Black artists, and for specifically barring rapper DMX from a nomination in 1998. The growth of Jay-Z is evident in his next comments, "Art is super subjective, everyone's doing their best, and the Academy are human like we are" – Instead of taking the stance he did 10 years ago, he encouraged artists to appeal to the Grammy movers and shakers to recognize more types of art. "We have to get involved," Jay said.
Clearly, this reasoning shows a positive change in Jay-Z's perception, angle on supporting other artists, and how to go about standing up for what you believe in.
This is not the only enlightened patterns that have been recognized in Jay-Z's recent discourse.
Over the last few months, Jay-Z has sat down with various journalists to discuss everything from his marriage to wife Beyonce, to the "superbug" he calls Donald Trump. In these discussions, the world has seen a seemingly awakened, compassionate and empathetic mogul, who has clearly reinvented himself from the cold-hearted drug dealing, ladies man that he's been pigeonholed as. He's now a devoted husband, father, business genius, and cultural, and political ambassador.
During his recent sit-downs with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, and Van Jones of CNN, Jay-Z bared what seems like his whole soul. We have never seen Jay-Z speak his truth in such a way. During both interviews, the rapper answered questions where he introspectively discussed his career and life, as a wealthy, and successful black man.
Everything that was touched on reveals the inner work that one must complete on a journey to expand one's consciousness. In his nominated song of the year, "The Story of OJ", Jay-Z speaks on the fact that even if you are wealthy, as a black man, there is an obligation to take responsibility for your actions, whilst recognizing the need to use one's talents or "God-given ability… to live your life out through that…to push the conversation forward until we're all equal…because until everyone's free no one's free."
This idea of accountability was further expressed when he spoke about accepting the pain that he bestowed upon his wife through his infidelity. Part of spiritual awakening is putting a mirror to your own flaws, as it is reflected back by the people we hurt. In his interview with Jones, he referred to Beyonce as his "soulmate," and whom I believe to be his twin flame. In his interview with Basquet, he mentioned the hardest thing to do, is to have to look into the eyes of the person you hurt and accept what you've done. "The strongest thing a man can do is cry, to expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That's real strength." This process is most definitely one of ego death.
Unconditional love, and expressing compassion for all people, regardless of race, gender, or class is another lesson that comes when you begin to awaken. When asked about the lessons that he would instill in his children, he responded that "fairness, and compassion, and empathy, and [possessing] a loving heart" would be some of the key lessons that his children would be taught. These are realizations that come through awakening, and as Jay-Z put it, are "where the important things lie."
Another crucial step in "waking up", is learning to unpack past trauma and wounds to end a cycle of destructive tendencies and patterns. He revealed the idea of unpacking pain, and intercepting triggers in an anecdote about neighborhood bullying when he was growing up. "Everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere… you're in this space where you're hurting, and you think I see you, so you don't want me to look at you, you don't want me to see you… knowing that and understanding that changes life completely." In realizing this, Jay-Z understood through his epiphany that young Black men of today "are in pain." He tapped into a collective consciousness, oneness, and the emotional archetypes that all of humanity experiences.
One of the final indicators of Jay-Z's awakened persona, and one of the most profound is Jay-Z's discovery of self, and sole purpose, through fulfilling his "karmic debt". In the New York Times article, Jay-Z defines keeping up with the facade of relevancy, as "white hot space." In my opinion, this registers as what is called "the matrix." Through awakening and awareness, we remember who we are, why we are here on Earth, and how we are to fulfill our missions. This white-hot space he speaks about refers to the illusion of what is most important in life, and the reality, or duality, of all that exists. Being the hottest thing out is temporary. He reveals that this is not what's important. "I identify with truth.”
It is clear that he has come to acknowledge his purpose, as he proudly proclaims in the lyric, "I'm clear why I'm here, how 'bout you?" You can sort of see the evolution of a person in [his] music says Basquet. I'd like to replace the word "evolution" with "ascension," which is the meaning of living this "Hard Knock Life," and the greatest reward anyone can ever receive; in order to attain this, (in Jay-Z's own words) "The spiritual stuff really works.”