The Disconnect Between Generations In Rap

“Y’all on the ‘gram holding money to your ear. There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here” —JAY-Z

In rap, the sound changes about every five years. With the landscape of the genre moving in different directions every so often, there tends to be new trends set by new artist. Now, which people have coined the term “the money phone” is not a new trend whatsoever, there is a resurgence on social media where popular artists display for the world to see.

On his 13th studio album 4:44, JAY-Z points out that the rappers using “the money phone” is more showing a disconnection between what wealth actually is, and what the rappers think wealth is. Throughout the album, there are gems about supporting black businesses, obtaining property and art, and building credit instead of throwing money in the strip club, but it seems the rap community taking offense to “the money phone” bar.

A lot of the criticism about the line was due to the fact that it is more so of a cultural thing. Kids grow up in poverty and find a way to make good money and it’s sort of like a celebration of having money. Other reasons is that because of JAY-Z’s success, he’s an anomaly, so when he tries to teach, few people don’t take his words due to the lack of their own success. While an insignificant amount of people chalked their ignorance to his age, I feel is the worst reason to discredit or brush over lesson someone gives.

All the artists against JAY-Z’s rhetoric have the same message behind their reasoning for using “the money phone”. In a recent video shared online rap artist and frequent collaborator with JAY-Z, Drake said “They said don’t put money to your ear? Oh, I can’t hear that,” while holding a stack of money to his ear. In the song “The Story of O.J” where JAY-Z says the line, he never tells the people who partake in this trend to stop, or even thinks it is a bad thing to do, but that the money you’re holding up to your ear, thinking you’re flexing is not really much compared to what he calls money.

Let’s give it up to the first rapper to be inducted into the songwriter’s hall of fame, who happened to not write many of his raps, and recites them off the top of his head. The king of the double entendre strikes again with the choice of word disconnect. He calls out the disconnection between the difference in money between him and said artist, but also talks to the disconnection of how people would receive the line. The content on 4:44 was to point out ways our how black people are living, how they can improve in life in his perspective, how we are viewed in life, and how we must come together as a race to better each other. In spewing this rhetoric, I believe harsh truths had to be revealed in order to see how we can improve. He used different examples throughout the album, but for some reason this line wasn’t well received.