(Editor’s Note: This is Becca’s first piece for her new column, “The Astro-Synchronic Hustle”)
Jay and Ye. Hova and Yeezy. However you put it, these two go together like saltines and mayo (the ultimate Broke Phi Broke hours devours).
For about 15 years I have faithfully followed the Roc. Watch the Throne, the two rappers long awaited collaboration, justifies the devotion. Not only is the album an eclectic mix of clever samples, insightful hooks and dizzying beats, but it possesses an incredibly spiritual undertone. Beneath the boasts of lifestyle excess, Jay and Ye repeatedly make subtle references that suggest belief in a Higher Power. It is their unwavering faith which grants them peace of mind and spiritual balance as they live lavishly.
Kanye West, best known for his controversial escapades, is a large personality. From calling George W. Bush a racist to interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs, there’s no denying his ability to capture the attention of the masses. This is what makes him both celebrated and hated. But, what sets him apart from run of the mill “douche bags and assholes” is that he still manages to feel sincere when he expresses remorse for his behavior.
“Jesus Walks,” one of Ye’s first hit singles, illustrates this contrast perfectly. In the song he raps, “We at war with terrorism, racism, and most of all we at war with ourselves.” Even in the earliest stages of his career, Ye recognized his inner struggle. And, in order to maintain balance, he relies on faith, saying, “I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers/The way Kathie Lee needed Regis/That’s the way I need Jesus”.
The spiritual undertones of Ye’s artistic works continue on the Watch the Throne track “Otis.” In reference to his earlier work, he says, “I made Jesus Walks so I’m never going to Hell”. What my boy Ye is saying is that by creating a personal anthem that addresses his deeply seeded conflicting issues, he was healed and purified spiritually. “Jesus Walks” was Ye’s way of not only proudly announcing his faith in a Higher Power, but creating this track was a means of finding a delicate balance between both believing in God and staying true to himself by producing a chart toping single.
Unlike Ye, Hova is a veteran of maintaining equilibrium between remaining spiritual and thirsting for hip hop dominance. Back in 1998 he dropped “A Million and One Questions”. It was on this track that our boy Jay proudly proclaimed “They call me Jay-Hova [Jehovah] cuz the flow is religious”. From the very beginning of his career Jay established an undeniable connection to his own personal notion of a Higher Power. His flow is uniquely his own because he attributes his lyrical genius to the Higher Power.
On the track “Welcome to the Jungle” he spits, “My uncle died, my daddy did too/Paralyzed by the pain, I could barely move/My nephew gone, my heart is torn/Sometimes I look to the sky, ask why I was born/My faith in God, everyday is hard, every night is worse/That’s why I pray so hard”. If you listen between the lines, you realize that Hova is a deeply wounded soul. Like all Hustlers, he experiences pure, unadulterated pain and emotional anguish that comes from losing family members. It is evident that his blind, yet profound faith in a Higher Power enables him to do what Hustlers do best—push through the pain in order to accomplish their own personal and professional goals. This is the primary reason why no one comes close to Jay-Z’s accomplishments in his 41 years on earth. He is and forever will be in a realm that belongs to him and him only.
So, not only is their combined flow a religiously evolved scripture, but the bond that Ye and Jay share is of a sacred, holy nature. They find solace in working together; stackin’ that guac together; dreaming together, while staying glamorously humble together. And, when these two join forces, what is accomplished is something that is hard to describe, because it belongs to those who dwell within ethereal realms. I can honestly say that I’m pickin’ up on what these two are puttin’ down, and I tip my hat to them.
Image: NY Times