If there was an album that could describe my life, it would be Jay Z’s fourth album: The Dynasty Roc La Familia. Jay Z released this album at the tail end of 2000. He was about sex weeks away from turning thirty one and you could just feel that the rapper we had all known and loved was about to shift into something else after this album did its numbers. I remember seeing The Source Magazine rates it with four and a half mics. I was in tenth grade and knew that his next album was going to get the coveted classic five mic rating. I also knew it wouldn’t be anything like I had heard from him before.
The intro is one of my favorite tracks by Jay Z ever. Kleeer’s “She Said She Loves Me” was sped up in a key that made it sound sinister and Shawn Cory Carter just had some shit to get off his chest. “Never read the Qu’ran or Islamic scriptures. Only Psalms I ever read was on the arms of my niggas.” Clever and shit-talking Jay on his A-game. The album was supposed to be a compilation showcasing the talents of Roc-a-fella Records; but Jay was in a zone so it became a solo effort.
I loved shit-talking, misogynistic, gun-toting, drug selling Hov. The album slowly evolved. Songs such as “Parking Lot Pimpin'” became introspective and soulful songs like “This Can’t Be Life” in which Jay rapped about having a stillborn child and slowly took is coat off displaying that he wears his heart on his Rocawear sleeve. If you think about it, this is the last album where he made blatant club bangers and no longer was the thug.
The Blueprint was released September 11, 2001 and the guy we knew and loved for the previous five years was gone. He was in his thirties, had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and once again had to get some shit off of his chest; but in a more refined manner. He was polished. The way he dressed changed, he stopped wearing earrings, and fell in love. Looking back, he’s been that Jay Z almost thrice as long as he’s been the big pimpin’ dope man. He became a businessman who transcended hip hop staying true to “I do this for my culture…I’m overcharging niggas for what they did to the Cold Crush [Brother].”
I feel a lot like this. I took most of the last six months from my blog off. I have been getting myself together while doing this victory lap of my twenties. I’m still the shit-talking Chad Milner; but not only can I feel something in the air, I am changing myself. The pressure has been on for me. If I am a piece of coal going through a metamorphosis part of me is starting to crystallize and look like a diamond. Slowly but surely, everything in my life is changing and evolving. I’m almost thirty so this change is right on time.
Hov knew before he laid down one verse that he was about to change into something else…so he gave Dynasty as a means to meet his fan base where they were at to transition with him in a palatable fashion. I will be back to writing regularly as I am do the same.