clap clap blog: we have moved

Friday, July 01, 2005
I meant to write you more today, dear blog, but, well, 75 minutes on a phone meeting about royalty admintration will make those sorts of things difficult.

But I do want to send you off with a little something, and that something is Jay-Z's "Dear Summer," which is not the big summer jam you might suspect it to be (it is not, after all, "Pimpin' All Over the World"), but is instead wistful, elegaic; in other words, perfect for those of us stuck inside an office on all these sunny days. Sure, on the surface it might seem specific to Jay himself, with its lyrics about retirement and him seemingly saying goodbye to hip-hop and its tradition of turning out a perfect summer banger that you hear everywhere (in contrast to most other industry's tendency to pack stuff near the holidays). Hip-hop has, in a way, colonized the summer, and for Jay to say bye to one means saying bye to the other.

It's also, though, the story of someone getting their first regular office job, given his repeated mention of him being an executive, ("I got a new bitch--corporate America!" take that, Boston!) and talking about getting "out the hood--and I pray I stay out for good" isn't too far from giving thanks that you escaped your small town, and having a back-of-your-mind fear of failure, fear that you're going to have to go back. (This is especially revelent in New York, of course.)

It reminds me that I'm not in school anymore, and so I don't get a summer vacation, and how much that sucks, and from there, it reminds me of the first summer after college, when I got a job and would plan escapes to the park and read and eat ice cream, and how that's gradually evolved into days when I just don't see the sun, even though I know it's there. We say goodbye to the summer when we take that job, and we're never quite sure when we'll see it again, at least for the long stretches of time that truly typify summer--when we take a few days off and hang out, we're really just taking a vacation at home, not indulging in the kind of langorous stretching-out that summer should encourage. That feeling makes up half the song, but the other half is that feeling receding in the distance, as Jay waves goodbye to all that, and this is mainly in his voice, although the backing does have a minor tone that you don't find in most summer jams.

It's really a wonderful piece of work--releasing a summer jam that's wistful about summer rather than celebratory, and that feels familiar to me in a way that talk of cruising around and playing basketball don't anymore. If there's a reason for Jay to keep rapping, it's that he brings a now-unique perspective: a musician with a regular job, someone who's fully ensconsed in the business world, and talks about that.

(Streamable here and here--thanks Hillary)