All right. This song is growing on me. It’s just so expertly done in every facet. And the video helps. It’s exactly what it should it be. (Justin Timberlake eats cereal while Jay-Z watches basketball. They’re just like us!) Which is all totally what you’d expect. Immaculate execution, carefully engineered for maximum possible popular appeal. Which points to the problem, too, of course. “But he don’t know the meaning of dope,” said GZA, complaining about a honkey A&R executive on the Wu-Tang’s “Protect Ya Neck.” “When he’s looking for a suit-and-tie rap that’s cleaner than a bar of soap!”
But that was back in… [checks Wikipedia] Jesus, MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS ago! I am so close to death!
And that points to why Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z making such a song, calling it “Suit & Tie,” is okay. The world changes. Hip-hop has changed, what it means has changed. It’s a whole lot bigger than it used to be—it’s boundaries have expanded. There’s a lot more room in it, room enough for the dirty-and-grimy youngsters who wear the same clothes for days, like Jay used to say when he’d talk about how he’d never change.
And room enough for two world-famous multimillionaires to finish eating cereal and watching basketball (and playing chess—just like GZA and the Wu-Tang!), put on Tom Ford tuxedos and slide across the stage at the Palladium—in a video directed by David Fincher.
Only as we should have expected after hip-hop got as big as it got, when it became such a dominant pop force (with the help of pioneering groundbreakers like GZA and the Wu-Tang!). The world changes, things in the world change, and our expectations change with that.
Will anyone be surprised if Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake are running on a presidential ticket in 2033? I won’t be. (I mean, I’ll surely be dead by then, so nothing will be surprising me.) Why would that not happen?