Jay-Z partners with no producer to better results than Pharrell Williams. Pha-Real is a master at taking the uncovered nuance of an artist’s story and blooming it. This gem of a track is as intoxicating as its subject matter. In nearly five minutes, Young Vito confesses to being consumed by hustling. He reveals that drug dealers suffer the same sickness as their customers: addiction. Once he received his first taste of the lifestyle spoils afforded by disposable currency––Mercedes that were as fast as the women who ached to ride in them, champagne contests for the entire nightclub to see, being able to turn January into July with one flight––he was hooked. The euphoria he felt the first time he rode in infamous Brooklynite Calvin Klein’s green BMW was unforgettable. He also remembers his dilemma then: crime did pay for him, but a drug dealer’s story always ends with them on a cell block or in a pine box.
10 years later…
A disgruntled and newly released Klein dimmed some of the luster from Jay’s autobiographical line/memory (the street legend accused Jay of building a career image on his likeness and not offering any reparation. The conflict appears to be resolved). Klein aside, Jay’s as much of an addict today as he’s ever been. He’s headily channeled his jones into raising an empire. The decade is only three years old and the King of Kings County is ahead my miles in Hip-Hop’s Business Man of the decade race. Diddy may have more net, but he––hell, most people on Earth––don’t have more business than El Heffe. A fiend for a new deal, the Jay-Z brand currently spans fashion (Rocawear), liquor (D’USSE cognac), sports (NBA owner to agent), nightlife (40/40 clubs), real estate (Barclays etc), and of course music (Roc Nation Records and management). Jay’s hustle has long passed being “So Russell.”