How Similar Are Jay-Z & Michael Jordan?
Blueprint 3 – Jay-Z
Today I was listening to Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album for the umpteenth time. This time ’round I was really experiencing the album, because I had the lyrics for each song up on my computer so I could really understand what Jay was talking about.
I do this for most of the albums I listen to because it’s almost like class: the first time a teacher spits those facts at you it may not mean anything, but then you sit down, study it and you finally understand. Same goes with artists. It isn’t until you sit back when you realize the artistry and talent that is going on.
Which lead me to start thinking about the striking similarities between Jay-Z and another iconic figure, Michael Jordan.
On September 11 this year, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Hall of Fame. On that same day, Jay gave a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden which sold out in less than an hour (an event that I’m sure he’ll boast talk about in future interviews and songs).
Jay-Z has always likened himself to MJ and name-dropped him numerous time in lyrics such as:
“I am the Mike Jordan of recording” (from “Encore”)
“I’m Michael Jordan, I play for the team I own” (from “Best Of Both Worlds”)
“When I come back like Jordan, wearin the 4-5, it ain’t to play games with you…” (from “Change Clothes”)
However it wasn’t until I heard “So Ambitious” off BP3 and watched Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech that the similarities between the two icons stuck together like white on rice.
His Airness: Michael Jordan
If you haven’t watched his speech, Michael Jordan took significant time thanking those who lit his fire for the game. It was great that he mentioned guys like Leroy Smith, Dean Smith, Bryon Russell, family members, other basketball players and more. They all added wood to that fire and started the process for Michael Jordan to be one of the greatest basketball players ever.
Jay-Z’s track “So Ambitious” shows strong similarities to MJ’s speech and legacy. What added the fuel to Jay’s fire? Here are some lyrics for you to ponder:
“I felt so inspired by what the teacher said, I’d either be dead or be a reefer head”
“Even better what my uncle did I popped my demo tape in start to beat my head peeked out my eye, see if he was beatin’ his he might as well said beat it kid”
“The motivation to me, is them telling me what I could not be”
“Dear teacher, you probably somewhere near a speaker I’m balling out of control, can you hear my sneakers? Fu*k yall!!”
Of course the way Jay puts it in song is more blunt and punchline worthy, but do you see the similarities? Michael Jordan had Bryon Russel, Dean Smith, and the coach who chose Leroy Smith over him. Jay-Z had teachers, uncles, and countless haters. Here’s a clip from MJ’s speech:
What do you think?
Author’s Note: While I was searching for an image for this post, I was amazed that I could not find a picture of Michael Jordan and Jay-Z together. What amazes even me more is that on BP3, Jay brags about receiving text messages from Barack Obama, having Oprah in the projects sipping on quarter waters, Michael Jackson on the Summer Jam screen, etc but there’s no reference of a factual experience with Michael Jordan, the man himself.