He usually wears a T-shirt and jeans, invariably made by Rocawear.
Donkeys & Mules
His hair is shaved barbershop-close, and there is the hint of a goatee on his chin. Diamond earrings and a diamond pendant are the only indications of his fortune and, indirectly, his fame. Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter in He grew up in the Marcy City Housing Projects, a forbidding bastion in Bedford-Stuyvesant; he has turned the project name into a hip-hop brand name. At a recent concert in Washington, D. Jay-Z is among the few rappers who memorize rhymes without committing them to paper, but he says that as a kid he always kept a green notebook with him. To make raps?
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Jay-Z returned to Brooklyn, where, he says, he spent his early twenties selling crack cocaine. He is vague about the specifics.
In , after Jay-Z was shot at from six feet away, he decided to give rapping another try. A producer named Clark Kent introduced him to Damon Dash, a Harlem entrepreneur who had contacts in the rap industry, but no one was interested in signing Jay-Z. The first thing you notice listening to the album is the high, nasal voice, steely and precise; the enunciation is clear, and Jay-Z moves over each syllable lightly.
The words pour out so effortlessly that rhyme and rhythm seem almost like an afterthought.
Jay-Z has made two albums since. Life and Times of S.
Since his first album, Jay-Z has simplified his intricate rhyme style: his lyrics have become less tightly constructed, and less descriptive—an approach that appeals to mainstream fans, who buy hip-hop for the beats, not the words. But the music is good. Which was the better Jordan? In an earlier era, a rapper might have been tempted to ignore mainstream listeners, or to pretend to, but for Jay-Z sound business practice trumps artistic ambition. Still, no one wants to watch a man make jump shots forever—not even perfectly executed fadeaway jump shots—and so Jay-Z has to find a way to keep people interested, including aficionados.
Songs such as these convincingly convey personal desperation, but they suggest a professional desperation as well. In , a Jamaican immigrant in the Bronx who called himself DJ Kool Herc popularized the art of manipulating two turntables at once, so he could repeat his favorite drum patterns over and over. The jumpy music that resulted was given the name hip-hop.
In the studios, when the first hip-hop records were made, d. They had whimsical names and wore whimsical clothes, and their records were filled with whimsical boasts. A new term was coined to describe this foulmouthed genre: gangsta rap. Rappers may emulate businessmen these days, but they are still linked to crime and violence.
The story of corporate rap starts with the murder of two of the most popular rappers of the nineteen-nineties: in September of , in Las Vegas, Tupac Shakur who recorded as 2pac was shot and killed, and six months later, in Los Angeles, Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B. Shakur and the Notorious B. Biggie was a superior stylist and a great narrator; he told his life story in a series of morbid jokes and pointed anecdotes. The two had once been friends, but they had become embroiled in a seemingly baseless feud—it involved a mugging and, of course, a woman—when Shakur was killed.
It is only when the bill comes, minus the cost of the meat, that she realises she has eaten her beloved pet. Even a year later, the students were still struck by the tale, she says. Perhaps that can explain why urban legends are so often in very bad taste. We are also drawn to themes of survival — which is why many stories deal with life and death.
That makes sense, given our evolution — stories would have been an important way of transmitting valuable information that could save our skin at a later point. His participants were given a choice of tales and asked to choose one to read, remember and pass on to another person. Each tale reflected the above biases in a different way, and it seemed to have a big effect on their popularity.
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One told the story of a woman who died after a poisonous spider made a nest in her unwashed beehive haircut. In contrast, a more memorable story concerned a woman who had cybersex with an unknown man, only to find out months later that it was her father. Others, along a similar vein, might include the story of the inadvertent biscuit thief that ends in excruciating embarrassment.
Slender Man fans like to dress up as the feared character Getty Images. Appealing to both the social and survival biases, the story of a serial killer who lures women to their death, with the sounds of a baby crying proved to be most popular of all. Surprisingly, Slender Man only partially confirms these findings. Yet the story is almost completely lacking in social information.
One possibility is that Slender Man is just a fluke — the exception that proved the rule. More intriguing, however, is the idea that it instead reflects a deeper change in the way that we craft folk tales thanks to the internet. Memorability would have been crucial when stories were passed mouth to ear, but with the cut and paste buttons on our desktop, it perhaps plays less of a role. In other words, as more stories are shared on the internet, our stories may lose some of their social nuances, and become even more ghoulish.
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