Jay-Z Disses Billboard, Not Kanye West, And Proves His Point With Ease
Meek Mill's highly anticipated album Championships didn't reach day-old status before outlets (including us) quickly picked up "What's Free," an elite collaboration with Meek, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross, yanking Jay's lyrics from the track and dissecting them to fit the "Jay vs. Kanye" news vertical. All of the men speak truths about criminal justice systems and levels of black plight felt from black kids at the bodegas to black men in the boardroom. With all three facing oppression on the side of success, Jay took time to bring this to light, by not dissing West.
Let's read the lyrics again, courtesy of Genius:
No red hat, don't Michael and Prince me and Ye
They separate you when you got Michael and Prince's DNA, uh
I ain't one of these house n***as you bought
My house like a resort, my house bigger than yours
My spou- (C'mon, man)
He even dug deep for his Twitter password to clarify the bars.
The line clearly meant don’t pit me against my brothers no matter what our differences are (red hat) now go pick up Meek album . Drake and Meek on there together .
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) November 30, 2018
Sure, Jay isn't with the politics of President Donald Trump nor Ye's attraction to it. He's made that clear in the past, along with the 52.6 percent of Americans who also disapprove the disgruntled cheeto. His Michael Jackson and Prince line is what best describes his friendship with his former protégé, which isn't a diss at all.
While Prince and MJ had two completely different styles of R&B, funk and pop allure, the two kept up one hell of a competitive rivalry. From the infamous James Brown "duel" to Prince's refusal to take part in "Bad" or "We Are The World," their back and forth was something people recognized but didn't intensify. With Jay and Kanye in aerial positions, the digital peanut gallery foams at the mouth at the mere sign of a name drop or reference. It also doesn't help that Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Kim Kardashian-West, two women who are influential in their own right, are often brought into the conversation for the sake of clicks and platinum SEO practices. Jay's message with those lines is that despite their differences, he won't allow them to positioned as rivals.
What should be taken from this verse is Jay's undeniable influence over the culture. His dig at our cousin platform Billboard and philosophy around what should truly matter in music sales will permeate the minds of his peers and aspiring musicians in no time.
Now, read those lyrics again.
I ain't got a billion streams, got a billion dollars
Inflating numbers like we 'posed to be happy about this
We was praised in Billboard, but we were young
Now I look at Billboard like, "Is you dumb?"
Jay's Magna Carter Holy Grail may sit low on the ranking of his best albums, but it changed how the RIAA determined the eligibility of platinum and gold plaques. "Going forward, sales of albums in digital format will become eligible on the release date, while sales of albums in physical format will still become eligible for certification 30 days after the release date," revealed Liz Kennedy, the director of the RIAA's Gold & Platinum Program in 2013 after the album went platinum immediately thanks to his partnership with Samsung for the MCHG's release.
But Billboard didn't count the sales, which more than likely could've given Jay another No. 1 album. Years later, Jay's experimental promotion is typical with Travis Scott's scoring the largest selling album of 2018 with Astroworld thanks to his merch-album bundle. While Nicki Minaj did a similar tactic with Queen and bowed at No. 2 on the charts, there's no denying that Jay (along with Prince and Madonna who toyed with this formula in 2004 and 2012 respectively) opened doors for the music industry to change its rules at the expense of his art.
With Jay dropping bars aimed at dismantling systems, we're sure to see some more changes in streaming culture soon. This year, he took aim at the Grammys on Everything Is Love cut "Apesh*t." He also revealed how he turned down a halftime show gig for the Super Bowl, forcing us all to deal with Maroon 5 on the stage.
Jay's words not only bump hard, but they also cut with visceral lethal precision.
After all, when is the last time you've had Cristal?
Listen to "What's Free" below.