All Hail The Queen
As I make a left turn on Fountainview, the adjacent street from my work place on Richmond, my maroon red Nissan Sentra wags its tail, as if to the beat of the tunes blasting from my speakers. My friend and colleague AZ holds his breath and pays intense attention to the ear-grabbing song desperate to find out how the song ends before the ride ends at work. Jean Grae's charismatic voice rings from the box: "This whole driving got me buggin' Seein' visions,...They say the'll relocate me to hell, put my mama in jail, I dumped the caddy for a black Impala, Then I sped off East..."
In an industry largely dominated by the males and/or half-naked females, there's no existing category for an artist like Jean Grae. She'll neither dumb down her lyrics for mass appeal nor will she take off her clothes for record sales. Commercial viability doesn't even exist in Jean's vocabulary. Skill and raw Hip Hop is all that matters. She commands the mike better than 90% of the present day MC, and combines wit with substance. With enough punchlines to fill up a planet, JG's immortal powers are unstoppable.
From her underground debut, Attack of the Attacking things to her most recent effort, This Week, Jean's impeccable lyrics and conversational-flow convey a unique style that is lacking in modern day Hip Hop. The difference between this Jeanius and other rappers who whine about the state of Hip Hop is that she presents herself as a remedy to the deteriorating art, rather than just complain about it. On her classic track, My Crew, she spits: Rap's dead
"Rap sucks, But thanks to ya'll for Killin' it/Grillin' it down//And spillin its guts and fillin' it Back up with trash/.Wait up I mean cash //But aint the two synonymous With media politics?"
While everyone from Jay-Z & NaS to Fat Joe is striving for the New York's virtual throne, Jean Grae is already a queen in her own right. A queen greatly hailed by some of Hip Hop's finest lyricists including The Roots, Skillz, Talib Kweli, and 9th Wonder of Little Brother.
As her tragic tale "Destiny: Chapter One" continues to play, I'm reminded that her reign has just begun. There's no end to the story she's telling, well at least for now, because the next turn would lead us directly into the parking lot of my workplace. Verse 3 remains a mystery to AZ as he heads for work hoping to listen to the rest of the song as soon as he gets off work.