Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hello Brooklyn: Jay-Z on the Nets, to two disparate audiences

We all love Brooklyn, right? We’ve got the Brooklyn t-shirts, the caps, the hoodies. We know the borough’s rich history as an independent city, with world-class institutions, as a home borough for writers and artists, rappers and taggers, working folk and working-the-corner folk. We were major league; maybe we’ll be major league again (even if it wouldn’t be the same).

Brooklyn, of course, is a vague and malleable concept. Take for example Jay-Z's invocation of the borough in precincts uptown and downtown. Check out the November 9 conversation talk show host Charlie Rose had with, as he was billed, “rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z,” who, despite his storied days in the Marcy Projects, now lives in Manhattan. (Further below, Jay-Z's new "Hello Brooklyn" release.)

Among the keywords the Charlie Rose show helpfully provided was “Knicks,” but we all know that Jay-Z owns a piece of the Nets. The issue came up near the very end of the show, at about 48:25.

The Nets & Brooklyn

CR: Speaking of sports, the Nets--

JZ: Yeah.

CR: And Brooklyn--

JZ: Yeah. Great combination.

CR: And you—hometown, hometown.

JZ: Absolutely. Absolutely.

CR: Is it gonna work?

JZ: Yeah. Great team, great city, how does that not work? The heart of Brooklyn--

CR: Can you take New York’s heart away from the Knicks?

JZ: The heart of Brooklyn—Brooklyn, you notice, when we love something, when we get into something, our love for it is unmatched.

CR: Do you think of yourself first and foremost from Brooklyn?

JZ: Yeah, of course.

CR: You do?

JZ: Yeah. I’ve lived in Brooklyn more of my life than anywhere else.

CR: Where do you live now?

JZ: In Manhattan.

CR: Do you go back home?

JZ: Yeah… of course. I don’t stand on the corner, there’s no reason for that.

Stay tuned for Rose's earnest attempt to sum up Jay-Z's career.

From “Hello Brooklyn”

And then there’s the rap called "Hello Brooklyn" Jay-Z shares on his new American Gangster release with Lil Wayne.

Here are some of the (unofficially transcribed) lyrics:
She like it hardcore, So I grind slow
Iller than Albee Square Mall back in the 9-0
My fine hoe we got some victims to catch
So in a couple years baby I'm a bring you some Nets.


And here's a video. (At least the song is a little more Brooklyn-specific than the Beastie Boys song of the same name.)

NetsDaily (which pointed me to the song) at the times suggested that’s 2009, but I think that’s way optimistic and, indeed, even the New York Times now acknowledges that.

Sure, we know that rappers "play" characters on their records, but it would've been interesting to catch Charlie Rose analyzing "Hello Brooklyn." What exactly, he might ask, does "a couple years" mean?

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