The People v. Shawn Carter in the matter of Gross Hypocrisy of the First Degree

10 11 2009

In the musical justice system, the people and the musicians are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups — The District Attorneys who investigate the crime, and the defense who claims it’s all a bunch of bullshit. These are their stories.

Judge: Docket zero-one is in order, the case is the people v. Shawn Carter in the matter of gross hypocrisy in the first degree. Mr. Carter, how do you plead?

Smooth S. Butter, Esq.: My client pleads not guilty your honor, and may I say for the record your honor is lookin’ fine this morning, your honor.

Judge: You may say that  Mr. Butter.

SSB, Esq.: Fantabulous.

Judge: Prosecution, your opening statement, please.

Dash Fellows, DA: Your honor, the esteemed jury, people of the court: Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z aka Young Hov aka Jigga aka Muhammed Hovi aka Hova aka S. Carter is full of shit. You might wonder exactly why that is, how a man who has built an empire out of nothing but hopes and dreams, a man who has out gained Elvis, a man who is the face of the most popular genre of music in the only country that matters — America — could be full of shit. Here’s your proof.

On killing Auto-Tune with “D.O.A.”:
“I really just wanted to send a message to rap; I didn’t know it’d be a cultural dispute. I really wanted to have the conversation, like “are we just going to sound like each other? Everyone’s going to sound the same? That’s what we’re gonna do? Don’t ya’ll know this is dangerous? And this is just how rock and roll got pushed from the forefront?” We did this to rock and roll. Everyone was doing the hair-band thing on MTV with the tight pants. They all had the big hair, just different colored tights. It just became about more of a look and a sound than the emotion of the music. And that’s what hip-hop’s becoming. It’s losing the emotion — you can’t have emotion in the robotic voice. I can’t feel anything! And then everyone sounds the same. I really wanted to have the conversation amongst us. And it went outside the culture.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there’s no need to lift your shoe and look for the shit, I’m going to show you right where it is in that quote from the defendant. “Are we really going to sound like each other?”

Mr. Carter, you recently put out and album, The Blueprint 3, if I’m not mistaken. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we’re going to inspect that album today, and you will see exactly what I mean when I say not only does Jay-Z sound like everybody else that’s putting out popular hip-hop music today, he’s committing an far more heinous crime — hypocrisy and denial.

SSB, Esq.: Sexy ladies and fly gentlemen of the most impressive court, your succulent, sexy honor and everybody sitting behind me with a clear view of my sculpted, Adonis-like ass, let me tell you something about my client, Jay-Z. Not only is he innocent of these alleged crimes, preposterous as they are.

He should be actually be filing a counter-suit, with claim that not only is he not a hypocrite, he might be the only truth-teller of the lot of rappers, mark-ass tricks, trick-ass marks, emcees, wordsmiths, rhymesayers and so on and so forth. Jay-Z has done nothing but carried rap on his shoulders, and by the end of this trial, you will nod your head both in agreement with me, and to some of my clients very best songs.

Judge: Counselor? A rebuttal?

DF, DA: While the defendant claims that he killed Auto-tune “because you can’t have emotion in the robotic voice” his actions are quite the contrary. He may like to say he killed Auto-tune, but no-no, he was the one who helped it.

Look at the featured artists on The Blueprint 3 — One Mr. Kid Cudi, one Mr Hudson, one Mr. Drake, one Mr. Kanye West — all staunch supporters of Auto-tune. If the defendant wanted to kill Auto-tune, why would he promote those closest to the music manipulator?

Think of past Jay-Z albums, where featured artists were the likes of Eminem, UGK, Beanie Sigel, Big Boi and the rest. These were people who would have murdered Auto-tune. But who did Mr. Carter choose to identify himself with? The answer: a much different ilk. The closest he got to his roots was featuring Young Jeezy, but let’s be honest ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that song kind of blows.

SSB, Esq.: Objection! Erroneous! That song is as smooth as … as … as butter.

Judge: I’ll allow it.

SSB, Esq.: What Mr. Fellows is doing is throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Did my client enlist ardent users of Auto-tune? Yes. Did my client give his album and undeniable electronic feel? Yes. But does that mean the man should be convicted of hypocrisy? Of course not. My client is a shaper of the hip-hop community. He doen’t only identify trends, he makes them.

The plain fact is that right now, hip-hop is in an electronic phase, one that is evident on all levels, from T.I.‘s Paper Trail, to Wale‘s Attention Deficit, to the aforementioned Drake’s, Cudi’s and Kanye’s of the world. This is the world we live in, those are the facts, baby.

Judge: Counselor, watch it.

SSB, Esq.: My apologies, that is a disrespectful way to talk to them bitches. But my point remains. My client, while recognizing the trends of the industry and utilizing them to the best of his ability, has not Auto-tune’d his album in the manner he speaks of in D.O.A.

DF, DA: What about “Hate”?

SSB, Esq.: That’s just an element of the beat, no different than a drum machine or Pro Tools instrument.

DF, DA: Then how do you explain “Young Forever”?

SSB, Esq.: No Auto-tune.

DF, DA: “Young Forever” was the softest song Jay-Z has ever made! Ever!

Judge: Don’t whine counselor.

DF, DA: Your honor, this is preposterous! Look at the facts that this album clearly shows. It’s soft. It’s a soft album, it’s Auto-tune. I understand that Jay-Z is as removed from the streets of the Marcy projects as Amy Winehouse is from relevancy. It’s time we recognize The Blueprint 3 for what it is — a fraud, a sham and a hoax.

Judge: Mr. Butter? Would you like to end this with any additional commentary?

SSB, Esq.: Just one sentence, crafted by Mr. Carter himself.

“And for you other cats throwin’ shots at Jigga / you only get half a bar – fuck y’all niggas.”

Judge: Eloquent.

SSB, Esq.: I thought so.

Judge: It’s time for a verdict. Obviously it would be irresponsible of the court not to acknowledge the fact that Shawn Carter as significantly lost the edge that was hardened in the projects of New York City. The Blueprint 3 is no Black Album, Blueprint or Reasonable Doubt.

But that fact doesn’t tell the entire story here. Mr. Butter is right, this is the state of the industry. The most popular hip-hop music is less and less street-oriented, and Jay-Z, above everything else, is a business man. Maybe that’s the fundamental difference between Jay-Z and Nas — Nas would never alter his artistic angle to increase revenue, Jay-Z would.

Certainly that doesn’t take away from the quality that can be found on The Blueprint 3, like “Hate”, “Empire State of Mind”, “Run This Town” and so on and so forth. But it doesn’t absolve him either. I find Jay-Z innocent of Gross Hypocrisy of the First Degree, instead finding him guilty of questionable association and record direction, a misdemeanor. I sentence Jay-Z to probation on his next album — it better be good — and should he fail to live up to his probation he will be back in court to decide whether he should face mandatory retirement.

Court is adjourned.

Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3

1. “What We Talkin’ About” (feat. Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun)
2. “Thank You” – ★★★
3. “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” – ★★★
4. “Run This Town” (feat. Kanye West and Rihanna) – ★★★★
5. “Empire State of Mind” (feat. Alicia Keys) – ★★★★
6. “Real As it Gets” (feat. Young Jeezy)
7. “On to the Next One” (feat. Swizz Beatz)
8. “Off That” (feat. Drake) – ★★★
9. “A Star is Born” (feat. J. Cole)
10. “Venus vs. Mars” – ★★★
11. “Already Home” (feat. Kid Cudi) – ★★★
12. “Hate” (feat. Kanye West) – ★★★★
13. “Reminder”
14. “So Ambitious” (feat. Pharrell)
15. “Young Forever” (featuring Mr Hudson) – ★★★

The Blueprint 3 Total ★: 30
The Blueprint 3 ★ Ratio: 2.00

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