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The Best Song Of 2017: Jay-Z And Little Wayne Take On Real Racism And Real Blacks Respectively

No, 4:44 wasn’t all that, you can tell my the streams: 2018 isn’t 1997, and hip hop isn’t prog rock, you can’t hide from the sound of people not listening and people didn’t listen: the numbers weren’t there. “4:44,” “Family Feud,” “Kill Jay Z.” “Smile.” even the Frank Ocean song “Caught Their Eye” didn’t click with the audience. If hip hop ain’t pop, it ain’t working. But the best song of 2017 was on there: “The Story Of O.J.”  was both dramatic and cold as ice, serious and gorgeous, floating on a devastating Nina Simone sample from “Four Women”,” chosen by Hova according to producer

Here Jay Z performs with a confidence that veers well past arrogance, conversational and full force, as he explains what, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” failed to grasp as a youth, that in a racist society you can’t hide from your skin color -not even fame and power can survive. This is social commentary and also politics, it is the prize this time for the modern age: where even every success in the world doesn’t change anything, barely even. A horror story that will have to be explained.

On Little Wayne’s epic Dedication 6 remixed “The Story Of O.J.” as “Blackin Out” (featuring Euro), in which he takes aim at what it means to be a superstar, as he digs down not as a social commentary but a piece of self-revelation as social phenomenon. The song isn’t as important as “Story” but the rap is better and, along with the rest of the album, it is a clear remembrance that Weezy is the great, lost rapper. He is on a whole other level of flower, attacking with passionon the verses but then he steals the song from under Jay Z’s nose:

Right nigga, wrong nigga
Dope nigga, ill nigga
Rich nigga, Polo nigga
House bigga’, bills bigga’
Sick nigga, Hill nigga
Lit nigga, chill nigga
Racks nigga, real bigga’
Shaq bigga’, lil nigga
Facts nigga, trill nigga
Tax nigga, still nigga
Coke-on-coke, nigga
Slopes, niggas; hills, nigga
Joke, nigga? No, nigga
Clip bigga’, quick trigger
Thick strippers, I ain’t into stick figures
Mixed signals
O.J. with the brick
Nigga runnin’ through the white
Nigga, O.J. on my wrist
Nigga, that’s Sunny Delight
Nigga, diamonds in my teeth, shinin’ like some pearly whites
Nigga, straight from New Orleans, like a plate of dirty rice
Nigga bought a lot of art, and I brought a lot to snort, hey

This is one of the greats at the top of his game, taking the song of the year and jumping out for an unsentimental look at something Jay Z isn’t really interested in: true black in true time.

Put together, they deep end the case against racism against blacks in the USA by inclusive horrorshow with so much wit and energy it pulls you up and out. The best singles of 2017.

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