Jay-Z’s verse–N*ggas in Paris
N*ggas in Paris is one of my preferred tracks on Watch the Throne. Mixed reviews about this album aside, there’s no denying that one simply can’t listen to this song without getting hype! This song is classic braggadocio. It’s all about what happens when two boasty, cocky millionaires let loose in France. It’s a clever song that basically says “I’m riiiiiich, b*tch!” I particularly like Jay-Z’s verse in this track, because he is very adept at saying a LOT in a very few words.
Let’s dive into these lyrics…
So I ball so hard muthafuckas wanna FINE me
But first niggas gotta FIND me
What’s 50 grand to a muthafucka like me can you please remind me?
It’s sad how many people misquote this line. Do yourself a favour and stop listening to music with those awful white earbuds that come with the iPod. You’d be amazed how much clearer lyrics sound when you listen to music with quality headphones! Having said that, the opening line is “so I ball so hard muthafuckaz wanna FINE me”. Jay-Z’s talking about basketball fines here. More specifically, the fine that the NBA dished out this past April, stemming from a visit he made to the Kentucky Wildcats locker room. Jigga landed the Nets, the basketball teams he partly owns, in hot water for fraternizing with college players in violation of the NBA’s regulations. The team was slapped with a $50,000 fine. However, Jay-Z, whom Forbes magazine predicts will be a BILLIONAIRE by 2015, wasn’t phased. What’s 50 grand to a multimillionaire? Bus fare.
[Ball so hard] This shit crazy
Y’all don’t know that don’t shit phase me?
The Nets could go 0 for 82 and I’d look at you like “this shit gravy”
Again…a testament to Jigga’s unshakeable confidence and the phatness of his pockets. Even if the Nets lost every single game in the NBA season…Jigga would still be smooth like gravy.
[Ball so hard] This shit’s weird
We ain’t even s’posed to be here
[Ball so hard] But since we’re here
It’s only right that we be fair
We all know Jay-Z grew up in a public housing project in Brooklyn, NY. He is very candid about selling drugs as a youngster. Statistics tell us that people who are born into poor neighbourhoods are likely to remain poor for life. Another constant refrain is that young drug dealers are likely to end up dead or in jail by age 25. Jay-Z however, met a very different fate. He made it out of the projects and became one of the richest people in America. How do you go from slangin’ crack to walking around the Marcy Projects with Oprah Winfrey, just chillin? For Jay-Z, looking back to his humble beginnings and seeing where he is now must be weird at times.
I’m liable to go Michael
Take your pick: Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, game 6
Jay-Z is borrowing from the Notorious B.I.G. here (as he normally does). Big’s line in the 1997 song Victory was: “I perform like Mike; anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson…”
Big was referring to Michaels who were all at the top of their game: boxer Mike Tyson, baller Michael Jordan, and King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Big was saying he was the Michael Jackson/Jordan/Tyson of hip hop.
Jay-Z pays homage to Big using this line, but, he flips it and gives it a new meaning. As brilliant as all of these Michaels are, they are all a little insane as well. After all, aren’t all great artists (and athletes) a little crazy? Jay-Z calls attention to the brilliance and “craziness” of these three Mikes. Michael Jackson has been called “Wacko Jacko” for his many media antics. Mike Tyson has bitten off a human ear during a boxing match, has been quoted as saying “I’m gonna fade into Bolivian”, and of course, there’s that ridiculous tattoo on his face. And Michael Jordan? That winning shot in game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals? CRAZY!
[Ball so hard] Got a broke clock
Rollies that don’t tick tock
Audemars that’s losing time
Hidden behind all these big rocks
For we regular folk, having a clock that doesn’t “tick” means it’s broken. A working Rolex watch however, doesn’t “tick”…the second hand glides around the face of the watch in one continuous motion. If the secondhand on your Rolex “ticks”, it’s probably a fake. “Got a broke clock” therefore is a joke. It’s saying…”oh no, my watch doesn’t tick!…oh wait, it’s not supposed to! BA-HAHAHAHA…”.
As for Audemars Piguet watches? They cost about as much as a house. The face is usually filled with diamonds and a bunch of sparkly bullshit that makes it hard to see the time. I’m sure that doesn’t matter though. My guess is, the last thing anybody who can afford these gaudy timepieces would worry about is the time.
[Ball so hard]
I’m shocked too
I’m supposed to be locked up too
You escape what I escaped?
You’d be in Paris getting fucked up too!
Again…referencing the rags to riches story. Jay-Z is marvelling at his life. He’s a rich business man, able to afford lavish vacations in Paris and all the spoils that come with being wealthy. He was just a “no good” dealer from Marcy, and look at him now! Forbes! If you were in Jigga’s shoes and had pretty much “escaped death”, wouldn’t you ball out in Paris too?
[Ball so hard]
Let’s get faded
Le Maurice for like 6 days
Gold bottles, scold models, spillin’ Ace on my sick Js
[Ball so hard]
“Bitch, behave! Just might let you meet Ye”
Chi-Town’s D Rose
I’m moving the Nets…BK!
Le Meurice is a luxury hotel in Paris. I did a little digging, and you know how much 6 days in the prestige suite at Le Meurice costs? 25 thousand…euros. That’s about 34 grand in Canadian dollars…before adding all of the frills like fresh fruit, chocolates, champagne, fine French wine and cheeses. And if you want to “get faded”…you’re gonna need a helluva lot of wine.
“Gold bottles” of course refers to Armand de Brignac champagne, Jay-Z’s drink of choice since jumping the Cristal ship years ago. No Bambino for this baller.
As empty as the lines about “scolding models” may appear, they made me think. It’s amazing what type of women rich, powerful men can attract. Haughty, beautiful models who wouldn’t give a man the time of day unless he had an Audemars watch on (see what I did there?). These are expensive, gorgeous girls who want to party with the rich boys. Groupies. Gold diggers who are slaves to money, fame and power. Gold diggers are to money and power what dogs are to milkbones. When you think of things like that, it makes the “behave, and I just might let you meet Kanye” line become a lot more loaded. I can almost see Jay-Z waving a stack of money in front of these rowdy women, and picture the chicks obediently getting on their knees. Easily trained…just like dogs.
[Ball so hard muthafuckas wanna fine me]
That shit cray…that shit cray….that shit cray
“That shit cray”…my favourite saying of 2011, not gonna lie.
It’s been said that “cray” isn’t just a short form for “crazy”. There may also be a loose reference to twin British twin gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, here. The Kray twins committed vicious murders, but it has been said that Reggie only committed these crimes under his twin brother Ronnie’s influence. Ronnie was a paranoid schizophrenic and eventually died in a psych ward. That shit cray!
Anyway, kids. There you have it. Go in peace, and sin no more in your Facebook statuses with egregious misquotes and poorly spelled lyrics!