The Company Man was always critical of Jay-Z.
Not because he didn’t make dope songs or because his skills weren’t up to par. A quick peruse through his early catalog is more than enough to prove the contrary. Whether on Reasonable Doubt, or parts of Volume 1, or most of Volume 2 and Volume 3 — his mic always sounded nice.
The hits were always there. The talent was always apparent.
Despite the product’s consistency and undeniable Freshness, the seemingly one dimensionality of his content left him lumped in the middle with every other hustler, thug, gangster, money, hoes, clothes rapper that claimed late 90s airwaves.
I knew he was a hustler who just happened to rap. I knew he could match a triple platinum artist buck by buck with only a single going Gold. I knew I couldn’t floss on his level.
I knew more about Jay-Z’s possessions than I knew about Jay-Z The Person.
And when determining who is the Greatest Of All Time — the proverbial GOAT of this rap shit — all contenders must exhibit range. All contenders must connect on a personal, human level. All contenders have to have more to talk about than “Money, Cash, Hoes.”
Hypocritically, I never held Biggie to that standard.
Maybe because of nostalgia, or how both albums hit harder than “Down goes Frazier”, or the unfortunate appreciation we only have for people and their legacy after they’ve passed away — but B.I.G.’s catalog was similarly one dimensional and somehow I never flinched when his name inevitably ended up in GOAT conversations.