"Gentrify your own hood."

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

#Entrepreneurship #FinancialFreedom #CommunityEmpowerment #TheMarathonContinues #JayZ #TheBSides2 #NipseyHussle #Freestyle

Friday evening at 10:30 p.m. on April 27th, while many of us across the world were knee deep in Avengers: ENDGAME mania, quietly a cultural icon took the stage.

This rap pioneer delivered a powerful 90 minute performance that evening at Webster Hall, an intimate venue located in Manhattan, New York.

During a week where headlines were scheduled to be dominated by news ranging from: the NBA Playoffs, the NFL Draft, Marvel Box Office Records, and Game Of Thrones, a rapper/entrepreneur from the Marcy projects managed to steal a moment all for himself.

This man of course, is Jay-Z.

Highlighted by what many are calling a new clarion call for black solidarity & collective economic empowerment. This performance titled "The B-Sides 2" was the sequel to the legendary "The B-Sides 1," but it was not nearly as anticipated as its predecessor.

"The B-Sides Part 1" held in May of 2015 at "The Terminal" also in New York, was the first of its kind. The Tidal event was a milestone for then up and coming streaming service. Used to help encourage new subscribers to join the then service while also serving as an opportunity for Jay-Z to deliver an ode to his long time die hard fanbase.

"The B-Sides 2" had none of the previous iterations fan fare and from all indications intentionally ditched the mass marketing campaigns all together. Which resulted in many self proclaimed Jay-Z super fans, having no clue that the performance was even taking place. It wasn't until after video clips began to emerge online, that the community began to roar with adulation & enthusiasm.

Thanks to (Tidal), camera phone technology and the proliferation of social media, many of us were given a virtual front row seat to enjoy to the show.

Beyonce's scene stealing might have captured everyone's attention early on that night, as she was once a again shining like the Queen of our culture, but no she shared the trending topics with her King that evening.

The on stage reunion/healing moment between Jay-Z & Cam'Ron, a rap beef that reportedly led to the 2002 breakup of the infamous Roca-Fella records, brought smiles to many rap fans faces. That headline alone would have been enough for Hip-Hop culture to discuss and write about for a few weeks.

But that wasn't the moment that allowed President of Rap to once again thrust his name across our timelines and into our minds. It something even more rare than that, Jay-Z debuted a new freestyle live on stage.

Over 48 hours later these new bars have already inspired thousands of posts, tweets, comments, articles, and BLOGS (like this one). HOV dedicated the freestyle as a tribute to the late Great "Nipsey Hussle," and then doubled down by delivering a thunderous call for economic empowerment, financial freedom, and community empowerment within black & minority communities.

Music as an art form has always inspired me, but I acknowledge it also has the ability affect some negatively. Instead of judging the merit of the lyrics, or the author's intent, since art is truly subjective. We felt it would be more impactful to examine the core concepts being addressed in the verses. Define what they actually mean, and let you be the ultimate judge.

Let's dive right into verse that has stood out the most:

"Gentrify your own hoods"

Wikipedia defines Gentrification as:

"A process of renovating deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents. This is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning. Gentrification can improve the material quality of a neighborhood, while also potentially forcing relocation of current, established residents and businesses, causing them to move from a gentrified area, seeking lower cost housing and stores."

Typically when we hear the term "Gentrification" it is being used in reference to a historically minority community, and the actions of that force/promote the current residents to be pushed out in favor of new neighbors with a lot more paper (money).

"Gentrify you own hood, before these people do it" Is a quote you will most likely see on many t-shirts and hashtags for the rest of 2019. This bar, more so than the rest is what has caught everyone's attention.

While the mix of the reactions have been mostly "Great, good, bad, or in between." The echo has truly resounded through out our community.

Knowing the many instances & accomplishments of both Beyonce & Jay-Z's public philanthropic & social justice work the way we do, it is highly doubtful that this is what he was advocating. In fact most have already argued that we was actually (clearly) promoting self improvement/empowerment.

"Claim Eminent Domain"

You might not see this one on a t-shirt, but undoubtedly it will be repeated often enough.

Wikipedia defines Eminent Domain as:

Eminent domain in the United States refers to the power of a state or the federal government to take private property for public use while requiring "just" compensation to be given to the original owner. It can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even to private persons or corporations, when they are authorized to exercise the functions of public character. The property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties, who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, to economic development.

Like all tools, eminent domain, serves a utility. Meaning it has specific function that if yielded ideally, can create desired positive outcomes. How governments choose to deploy and utilize this tool, is where cause for concern comes in.

At its core, government serves the will of the people and to ensure law & order. So for example, lets say a local neighborhood group noticed that an old abandoned factory in their community, was causing a blight or nuisance in the area. These citizens could ban together, petition their local government to condemn the property, or seize the land. This land could then be converted to a park, business center, or community resource hub.

Conversely "eminent domain" can also be used to serve other interests that do not originate from the community. For example if a group of land developers from outside the community took interest or targetted certain neighborhoods. Typically the developers are looking for property that is low cost to acquire.