Rappers are like Born Again Christians: the person whose life was the worst before their “conversion” wins. I call it the Rasputin Complex, after the Russian monk and royal advisor who claimed you can’t really repent unless you’ve really sinned. Which sounds like a great excuse for a party to me! Where was I? Right. The internet’s all a-twitter with “news” of rapper Jay-Z’s confession about shooting his own brother. As far as I can tell, this “revelation” is pure fiction. And it started with the UK’s ultra-left leaning Guardian newspaper . . .
He describes shooting his brother, who had stolen his ring, and tells how he felt after pulling the trigger: “I thought my life was over. I thought I’d go to jail for ever.” In fact his brother, addicted to crack at the time of the shooting, did not press charges and apologised to his little brother for his addiction when the future star visited him in hospital. “It was terrible. I was a boy, a child. I was terrified,” he said.
So, conveniently enough, Shawn Carter’s bro didn’t tell the police about the attempted fratricide. And yet Jay-Z’s blood relation went to hospital, presumably due to his gunshot injury. If so—and I’m not buying this any more than I would a loaf of anthrax-infected bread—I wonder how Shawn Carter’s brother explained the wound to the police? There should be an official record of all this, right? Moving on . . .
The shooting is explored in the lyrics of You Must Love Me. “Saw the devil in your eyes, high off more than weed, confused, I just closed my young eyes and squeezed.”
More evidence that this is pure B.S. Whenever an artist uses his “real life” to perpetuate his public persona, you can bet that embellishment is the dish of the day. Especially if the genre demands a certain attitude for maximum sales. I mean, props. Get fibbin’ or die tryin’. Like that.
In the interview he also describes his surroundings. “Guns were everywhere. You didn’t have to go far to get one. Just everywhere,” he said. In a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, shootouts were commonplace: “[Guns] were around every day. There were shootouts, but I never shot anyone else. Most people in shootouts don’t get shot.”
Despite being shot at three times, he was unscathed. “It’s like there was some rogue angel watching over us,” he said.
While I’m down with the non-effectiveness of most gangsta shootouts, again, where’s the evidence that Mr. Carter was anything other than a model student—as his business acumen would indicate.
Seriously. The Brooklyn papers, at least, should be looking into this one. And anyway, when a rapper has to pretend (my guess) that he was a pre-teen gunman to earn respect/sales, what does that tell you about today’s role models for the African American community, and beyond? Elvis, where are you when we need you?