The American Gangster Doesn’t Know…


Editor’s note: I wouldn’t trade the community that hangs out here at this website for anything. The viewpoints are always smart, intelligent, witty and thorughly unpredictable. And that’s just what you see in the comments threads. The e-mails I get remind me that our generation is far from the apathetic monolith that the mainstream media describes. DP Dot Commenter CeezDiem sent in this e-mail about the latest music video from Jay-Z a/k/a “Young Barclay”. So tell us CeezDiem, how do you really feel?

What up Dallas,

First time emailing. Comment every now and then. Love the site. I’m an aspiring filmmaker and rap lover/hater and wanted you to do a drop on the new Jay-Z video for ‘I Know’. I really think the topic needs discussing. So I started writing down my thoughts and then I realized I had created the drop that says what I wanted. Maybe this can fly out to the people at DP?

Gray Hova’s newest video just dropped, and other than sparing us the sight of his old man jowls gyrating to his own raps, he’s once again doing his (ex)community no fucking favors by romancing the “stone” yet again.

The ‘American Gangster’ album was already nothing more than a cheap excuse for Jay to drop the Gwyneth Paltrow shout outs and go back to that crack rock talk my little cousins eat up with 2% milk and a cartoon spoon. Fear of being obsolete obviously shook him up after the rap Hindenberg that was…uhh… whatever that terrible post-retirement album was called, and drove him running back to his street pharmacy journal, post haste.

So he dusted off and donned his Super-Dealer cape once again and everyone heralded his cocai… i mean Hair-owe-in flow, his choice beats, and lack of Chris Martin duets. Hovi was back to his old boasts of neighborhood destruction! Not only that, but artiste’ that he is, he was able to find inspiration in a pretty (glorifying) but ho-hum gangster movie that’s far from a classic! How ever does he do it??!! I guess hydrating Africans, moving the Nets to Brooklyn, and doing whatever the fuck it is he does for the U.N. isn’t exactly what’s hot in the streets right now. Rhyming “Britney” with “get me?” clearly is.


As an Armchair Cultural Critic/Hatin’ Ass Loser, I was ready to make my peace with the whole affair, or at least shut the fuck up about it for a second… And then I saw this motherfucking video.

Alright, he did us TWO favors in this video. A) He’s not in it for a single frame. And B) He put Zoe Kravitz’ fine ass up in it. I swear that lil’ dame simultaneously turns me on and scares the shit outta me at the same time. She looks like she drinks blood and has a body temperature of 71 degrees. But I’d still follow her to a dicey underground party at a meat processing plant any night of the week. Fuck whatever Blade’s talkin’ bout! This chick looks like Sade 2.0!

What the fuck was i saying? Oh yeah. So at the start of the video, I was actually kinda impressed. Fine chick, dark tones, a song about drug addiction. I was expecting maybe a 3 minute rap version of Requiem for a Dream (and crossing my fingers for a remake of that “ASS TO ASS!” scene. ‘Swede’ that Gondry!). But what do they feed us instead? Basically an ode to shooting up!

Four things happen in this Video:

  • 1) My underage booboo meets up with some white schmoe in the street.
  • 2) She goes to a party with him and stares off at these slow moving hypnotic light tentacle things.
  • 3) She sits around a posh place lookin high as shit.
  • 4) And at the end she lets those lights coarse through her. OH!!! And she beautifully exhales white dust!!!!!!!! WTF!
  • Now from what I hear about the H bomb, shooting it up is like your veins are one big urethra bustin off hot champagne ropes on a sea of Scarlett Johansenns. So at the end of this video, when Lil Zo’ is floatin around and gettin eaten up by the tentacle lights, I can only assume it was intended as a visual metaphor for spikin’ that gravy. But then THAT’s IT! That’s the end of the video!!

    WHERE WAS THE DARK SIDE? The destrucion of family? Of love? Of Life? The song’s about Jay (playing the part of King H, naturally) rappin’ about his chick that used to love him/be addicted to him, but eventually left him/went clean. The video shoulda been a faux-documentary about a fiendin chick who starts doin it at parties, falls for the brown, gets fired from Macy’s, steals from her Momma, gets beaten up by a low level dealer/boyfriend, starts hookin, scheming, flim-flammin and grinding, rehabbing, relapsing, losing teeth, gettin ugly, getting better, getting busted, etc etc. Until it ends with her fragiley coming out on top.

    I dont think fragiley is a word, but you get the point. Maybe Jay owes Spanish Jose a big one and made this video for the purposes of sending him a new batch of young junk recruits. Why else release a visually romantic poem to heroin thats all high and no low?

    Am I trippin, or is this shit basically a commercial for H? It might as well end with a voice over from James Cromwell sayin’, “Afghani Brown: Fuck what you heard”. Is there a part 2 I dont know about where Zoe Kravitz walks around the Lower East Side like the couple in ‘Dope Sick Love’?

    What do you think? Is this a Crime against humanity or am I just Hatey McHater, mayor of Haterville?

    Oh, and P.S. This is what the video SHOULDA looked like.

    Shout out to Ginger Lynn!

    24 Responses to “The American Gangster Doesn’t Know…”

    1. Ernest Paniccioli says:

      If you check the numerous posts I dropped about both Jay Z and Denzel (both have z’s in their names as in zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..they found a formula and unlike a true artist that pushes and expands the envelope they get stuck on repeating the same tired retread over and over and over, like Janet Jackson and her 24 zombie dancers we’ve seen a 100 times before, but I digress) Fuck Jay Z and Fuck Denzel for that whole AMERIKKKAN Gangster bullshit. They both get lifetime BOZACK awards for shitting on their people, for creating a negative mythology and for not living up to their potential (and no The Great Mass Debaters does not give Denzel a free pass). Nuff said?
      Here is the bottom line, I am not a zealot, but this is an absolute:
      Whether you know it or not, accept it or not or understand it or not, when you become an icon (read rapper, actor or sports figure) you automatically become a role model and to piss that away glorifying drug deals for money makes you a bitch and a ho. And fuck Puffy as well because both jay and diddy are pimping vodka and as a man who has a family full of drunks alcohol is a fucking poison. Ernie Paniccioli

    2. Maxine says:

      Oh My God. This is the best thing I’ve read all week. Good stimulation for the morning…very nice.

    3. Amadeo says:

      The only cats in Hip-Hop I could spend time defending…don’t get enough air time to do anything that requires it.

    4. Vee says:

      Jay-Z’s response, “It’s just entertainment.”

      The images in this video may stick in the minds of young girls and boys for quite a while.

    5. Maxine says:

      Amadeo. I need your permission for something. Holla at me stat.

    6. Marvelous Mo says:

      Kids are impressionable young people. If the right person doesn’t decipher to them what’s pure “entertainment” and what’s “reality” or what the consequences are when partaking in certain activities such as young men dealing drugs or young women becoming promiscuous, tragedy reign their future. And the right person isn’t necessarily the parents, because half of the parents are like 15 years older than their children making them a bunch of walking tards raising future tards…the right person could be an uncle or someone attentive in their life.

      I don’t see any art in what “Grey Hova” does and I don’t see what the big deal is with him and why so many folks are his Stan. From all of my readings on this fool, he’s an awesome story teller because everything he talked about is rhymes was done by other people he was around. But I guess there is a lot of gwap to make off of your fanbase’s ignorance…pushing that Boss Hova bull shit on them and watching grown men get open off this guy. Most of his Stans are crack babies anyway…so that should explain a lot.

      Jay should just stick to dipping in and out of retirement, cheating on Beyonce with sub-par cunts, and making sure his hairline doesn’t recede, and Cooning to million dollar endorsement deals/rap videos.


    7. El Gringo Colombiano says:

      Damn, Joe Camel is getting gang-ethered here, worse than the ethering Clemens gave to Jeter [||]. Comedy

    8. the_dallas says:

      Damn, Marvelous went in so hard I had to break my Blueberry silence.

      We gots to save the babies!

    9. Combat Jack says:

      ^”crossing my fingers for a remake of that “ASS TO ASS!” scene”


      Ordinarily I wouldnt care, but in my humble opinion, as you being an aspiring filmaker, the post reads a lil but like Hatey McHater, mayor of Haterville.

      No offense though.

    10. CeezDiem says:

      HAHA. I can definitely see that Jack! None taken.

      Watching it again I see that it’s got its plusses (no standard rap cliches like maybachs, champagne, booty shakin), and is even kinda artsy and pretty.

      *The white boy she hooks up with and makes out with in the alley could be a metaphor for Heroin.

      *Overall, the video has a dark and foreboding quality. It’s certainly sexy, but in a dangerous sorta way.

      *The lights at the end could even signify death via overdose! (maaaybe)

      But it’s subtlety is the best AND worst thing about it. The song is STILL about crippling addiction. I think what irks me most about the video is the wasted opportunity.

      Piggy backed onto the wasted opportunity that was the AMERICAN GANGSTER film itself, it stings even worse. Take the 3 hour Movie, add this video to the running time, and how many junkies did we see? Like 6.

      But maybe i just have a hard on for junkies. [II]?

    11. Marvelous Mo says:

      Umm I don’t know what happened to my message…but I’ll try again.

      I have apps and ringtones for the BlackBerry since I am the Queen BlackBerry abuser.

      I’ll shoot them over to you.

    12. Ernest Paniccioli says:

      ……a drug dealer only sells drugs to a few, but the harm touches many………….a person who glorifies the drug game and gasses our children harms many times more than a drug dealer

      To quote Nasir Jones: FUCK JAY Z

    13. coqui says:

      I’ll part ways with the group and say i dug the video. It had a strong mood and the light tentacles were visually dynamic. Co-sign CeezDiem on the symbolism, I actually thought it was a bit obvious. That said I’m a grown ass man and know a little more about the history and impact of drugs on brown folks, so I think I’m appreciating this on different levels than a kid will.

      Jay-Z still ain’t shit tho.

    14. jayman says:

      wow, we touched on a subject that could go many ways. marv was right, we have to teach kids at an early age the diff between entertainment and reality. why do we hold black actors and rappers to a different light than their counterparts. denzel is an actor who plays different roles, nobody ever says robert denerio is a bad influence to the italion youth when he plays a gangster in one of his flicks. we need more role models in the home, i think we look at athletes and entertainers to be the saivors for our community, we have to start lookin at our selfs to do more.

    15. Ernest Paniccioli says:

      COQUI-my point exactly, as adults we should have a base, a foundation on which to make informed judgments, these clowns, their record companies and Hollywood as well as the liquor companies aim their shit at our children.
      and for a MF like GrayZee who comes from the hood and has witnessed the devestation and shit first hand he is doubly guilty so I agree Jay Z ain’t shit. Ernie

    16. jayman says:

      yeah thats true ernie, liquor compaines have all type of free hip hop events out here in the chi where i live. mgd has free concerts that they do to promote their product, the events are actually real nice to. kools barcadi, kools, and other liquor compaines also have events. i guess there trying to reach that hip hop crowd.

    17. Ernest Paniccioli says:

      Jayman, They don’t call teens their “TARGET” audience for nothing. Ernie

    18. e-loheem*com says:

      Dope drop. Requim of a Dream was K R A Z Y!

    19. Meka Soul says:

      pusha t’s crack boasts > young israeli’s atrophied raps.

      spending thousands of dollars making unexplainable, inexplicable music videos is the new blogging.

    20. khal says:

      i still love the video, for the low-key art side. it’s ju t minimal and not spelling anything out for you. i hated seeing this premiere on 106 & park and having coon-ass terrence have to be all “yo yo yo yo” and trying to explain why you have to think its hot. when jay does something thats more “out-there” visually, its like “damn wtf jay why you thinking”… but if he was to just have some bitch getting fucked while high off h, niggas would then retort on some “damn jay, you dont have to spell it out”.

      although, this video looks like what “flashing lights” should have been – visually. the lights blinking, the club shots, that was my image of the flashing lights video.

      in any case, dope argument, i just don’t really agree with it.

    21. allnice says:

      Jay is an icon love him or hate him. He is gonna do silly things and make mistakes, but at least he has some classics. He was never that interesting of a dude though. It aint like Jay is known for being creative. All of his classics are rip offs of greats like B.I.G., Nas, Big Daddy Kane, and even his “protoge” Kanye Tudda. He is a business man in it for the money plain and simple.

      He is a funny guy and definitely a fraud, but oh well. I laugh when people take him seriously like he is really cultured or actually has an opinion worth listening to. What does Jay know about H or coke? Does it even matter at this point?

      I remember reading a Denzel interview in Reader’s Digest. The dude must have said God like 20 times. I was wondering if he was alright. Can you answer every question with God or Jesus? He tries too hard come across as upright and cool when you know he really isn’t like that all the time. Jay and Denzels are actors. Their job is to entertain. All the other stuff they say might be bullshit or not. But no one should be jumping to believe shit and believe in people without knowing the facts.

    22. train says:

      wow, its like no one has listened to reasonable doubt. Either that, or they don’t understand it. Everything said here about Jay is basically contradicted in that album. Jay is a complicated character, he’s not simplistic and can’t be put in a box. He’s an individual and his complexity makes you see him as that. That’s part of his genius. He has a song on American Gangster that says “Its only entertainment” but he still can’t stop creating music, which says he knows it isn’t. He won’t let you define him. To say he is encouraging drug use to children is so simplistic, to evaluate music on that level reduces its value as art. The fact is Jay’s music is as equally anti drug as it is pro drug.

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