I've got more coming on this front, but here's a theme/narrative I'm not seeing in the hip hop conversation: Superstars being HUNGRY!
Eminem just returned after 4-5 years. Hungry. Real hungry. No matter how you parse the end results, dude is obviously on his grind.
Now, per this clip below, we've got Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, looking pretty damn hungry/earnest/eager to earn your respect.
These are two of the best to ever do it. Both talent-wise and as corporate entities. Skills and resources. And it's interesting to see how they play their cards.
Jay's been swinging and missing since Black Album, or at least that's the public perception. But he's clearly looking to return to his roots -- the release before this "Brooklyn Go Hard", was another east coast hip hop headbanger with little mainstream/autotune ambition, --so he clearly feels he just needs to go back to ill lyrics on hard beats.
But I think, per the video, he's clearly amped about the song-as-manifesto; rocking this song, at a Hot 97 Summer Jam, with T-Pain on stage, Kanye on co-production, if you go along with the spirit of it all it positions Jay as the sole steely [life preserver-ish TK TK TK] in a sea of pop-autotune-inauthentic-blahblahblah that's drowning hip hop.
What's being missed here in terms of relevancy (I think, I still have to turn it over a few times myself) is hip hop's unique position in giving us this window into passion's relationship to artistic product and subsequently commercial product and success. Which is to say: it's easier to spot an angry rapper, as opposed to an angry actor or politician or athlete through their product. Hip hop transmits talent/creativity more transparently, and this is part of its still not-fully-understood value. (?)