I love Jay-Z. Seriously. It might just be blind Brooklyn love, but it’s there nevertheless. There’s something about his (yeah, I’m gonna say it) swagger that makes me feel good-and only cats from Brooklyn have this swagger, this attitude. Sometimes, listening to Jigga is like listening to a black Tony Robbins.
Nevertheless, the new “short film” featuring Jay-Z called “NY-Z” leaves me a little lukewarm. I mean, first of all, what purpose does it serve? Because Absolut vodka is sponsoring it, I assume the main purpose is to sell more vodka. I don’t have a problem with that per se, but realistically speaking, how many folks are gonna see Jay-Z in an ad and decide “yes! I’m going to buy a liter of Absolut right now!! Honey, throw the Stoli away, we’re switching brands!”? The whole idea of sponsorship is weird to me. I can understand how it works with something that appeals to kids, because children are easily influenced. I’m not gonna lie to you and say that I didn’t go on an insane Pepsi kick when the Michael Jackson commercials aired in 1984. But now, as a dude in his mid-thirties, there’s probably nothing anyone can do that would put me in a position where I developed any kind of brand loyalty based on who’s representing them. Besides, this is vodka. I’m not so much of an alcohol snob that I can taste much of a difference between Absolut, Stoli and Grey Goose-or even whatever the house vodka is. Besides, didn’t Jay OWN a brand of vodka at one point? What happened to that? (I think it was called Armadale).
The main cause of the eye-rolling, though, had to do with the interview portions featuring Jay. While some of the stuff he said made me nod in recognition (particularly the fact that most Brooklyn kids don’t really get to experience Manhattan until they are teenagers…I certainly didn’t), he says some stuff towards the end about the artistic process and his alignment with Absolut that would have made me spit my drink out if I was actually drinking something. First of all, aligning yourself with a vodka company has absolutely nothing to do with art. Don’t fucking insult my intelligence. Secondly, we all know that Jay, like most pop stars, values commercial success and money over art. If Jay was really concerned about art, he wouldn’t be co-signing dudes like (Young) Jeezy. Add in the awfully pretentious star trappings that Jigga seems to be falling into (sunglasses indoors, doing an interview with Ed Lover wearing headphones over his hood), and it’s starting to seem like Jay-Z is seriously sipping on that back-slapping Hollywood juice that disconnects famous people from the real world.
Oh, John Mayer is in this, too-and I’m not really sure why. Can I play cynical devil’s advocate and wonder if, in light of the infamous Playboy interview, this is the music biz equivalent of the white dude from work saying “OF COURSE I’m not racist-I have black friends!”? Hmmm…as much as I (used to) love Mayer, maybe I *do* still have a bad taste in my mouth lingering from the severe douchiness of his comments.
At any rate, here’s the whole “short film”. If someone can give me a good reason as to why this even exists, I sure would appreciate it.