The 411 On 4:44: Track 02 “The Story Of O.J.”

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{I won’t have much filter during this blog so read with caution}

I’m not black, I’m OJ…….. *side eye* okay. 

This has to be the hypest song on the album. Jay spit straight facts. Big facts.

To me, this just might be the most valuable song of the year.

First of all, this Nina Simone sample is everything and relates perfectly to what the track is saying. Which is a lot.

The song reflects on the effects of slavery on women, and the opening lyrics touch on the four perspectives that Nina Simone sings about. Which relates to the chorus as Jay Z goes into the different niggas, to be frank, but at the end of the day, whether you a house or field, faux or real nigga, you still nigga.

As black people, we get to a certain status and since we’ve rarely had anything in the past, we hold onto that and tend to separate ourselves from the culture. Like Kanye said “Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe.”

That’s the number one take away from the entire song, but there is so much more to learn so I’ll outline each lesson with the lyrics.

  1. {I told him, “Please don’t die over the neighborhood, That your mama rentin’/Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood,That’s how you rinse it”} 

So as you already know, Jay Z has retired from the drug life and encourages everyone to do the same. So what he’s saying is don’t die over the neighborhood gang banging and selling drugs. I have actually known quite a few people who had dealings with drug game, and most of them invested in barbershops or laundry mats, so the ‘rinse it’ in this line made it a little more personal for me. This line could also reference to laundering money or cleaning up the neighborhood.

2. {I bought every V12 engine, Wish I could take it back to the beginning/ I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo, For like 2 million, That same building today is worth 25 million, Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo}

Instead of doing what he referenced in the previous line, he wasted his money and bought every V12 engine instead of rinsing his neighborhood. He talks about this specific property and the actual video is in minstrel form, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, go watch Ethnic Nations. In order for this song to really hit you, you have to watch the video.

3. {You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit/You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it}

A great close and dear to my heart friend bought me a copy of a book called Family Properties last year for my birthday. That book explained every other thing I didn’t learn in my Sophomore year history class about housing inequalities, redlining, and the impact of race in Chicago’s housing developments. Pick up a copy it’s by Beryl Satter. Not only is this line funny, but it’s real. He goes on in the next verse and talks about financial freedom, which is something that damned near nobody has in black neighborhoods. Our money flows into the pockets of people who are not willing to invest in our communities. And most times, our own people aren’t even willing to invest in our communities. Main take away from this line: Build your credit and gain financial freedom.

Instead of going on to quote the entire next verse I’ll just continue with take aways of the song.

Writing this is actually getting me hype because I can speak from experience on this struggle. Jay talks about how he bought some artwork that eventually grew in value over the years and he can’t wait to pass the valuable piece down to his children.

For some reason, it seems like black people have a hard time understanding the value of a legacy and wealth. If your family has property, the worst thing that you can do is sell that property. As generations pass, the property will gain value and when push comes to shove, your family will have something to fall back on.

I lived in a neighborhood where everyone owned the house that they lived in. The United Center then needed the surrounding property to build parking lots, yes parking lots. So they had to negotiate with the surrounding home owners to buy their property. By doing so the homeowners made money, and were able to move out of a gentrified and violent neighborhood into better situations. Those who moved after first notice from the United Center received rewards that barely compensated for their contributions to the property, let alone the community. The homeowners who negotiated understood the importance of being able to hold onto and pass down something into future generations. He also throws shots about how every talks about TIDAL being $9.99, by saying “I’m just trynna give you a million dollars worth of game for 9.99” 

He ends the song by throwing shade to the newer generation of rappers that still take advances that eventually leave them indebted to music entities.

I don’t think there is much to say at this point. Either you get it or you don’t.

The link to the video is below, like I said, watching the visual makes it much clearer than any review can.

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