Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Young Forever by Jay-Z featuring Mr. Hudson

As the night defines the day, death defines life. It’s the limitations, the finite nature of experience brings meaning to our world. While we wish that moments in our lives would never end, we know in the back of our minds that the knowledge, the understanding that things will not last forever is what makes us cherish the time that we have.

If a song never ended how carefully would you listen to it? If a football game never ended, how would you know who won? If we stayed forever young, what would be the point of life?

Jay-Z’s fifth single “Young Forever,” from his album, The Blueprint 3 question the idea of immortality.


This song features the English pop artist Mr. Hudson who has worked as a producer for artist like Kayne West while having a successful solo career of his own.

Many rap songs find their footing in popular culture based more on the hook as opposed to the rapping itself. Many of my favorite rap songs while having quality rapping initially only appealed to me because of the vocal chorus like my personal favorite rap song of all time (not necessarily one that I would argue is the best) “Ghetto Superstar” featuring the melody from the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers hit “Islands In The Streams” (written by the Bee Gees!!)


It only took three seconds of the opening vocals by Mr. Hudson to catch my attention and convince me to get “Young Forever.” This choice was made easier by the fact that Jay-Z is one of the greatest rappers of all time who never fails to provide interesting and technically fascinating raps.

The opening vocals are a combination of youthful naivety and doubt. Mr. Hudson sings about wanting to have a great experience last longer stating that he would rather die young or live forever never growing old. In the next line he sings that he wants to be forever young but then asks himself “do you really want to live forever?”

Jay-Z provides his own perspective on life comforting us in the first verse that great memories will they never end because they never leave our memory and “all we have to do is hit rewind.” He encourages us to live in the moment and that being young is a state of mind. This is why at the end of it “when the director yells ‘cut’” Jay-Z says he’ll be fine.  Maybe it's in memories that we find comfort or in living in the moment as Jay-Z describes in the next verse “fear not when, fear not why, fear not much while we’re alive” when thinking about the nature of death.

The one assertion Jay-Z discusses that I question is that he will live forever as his names is passed down in storied.  I think about my grandfather who recently died and how many people a generation from now will remember him? A couple dozen, maybe more, maybe less. Does this make his life any less meaningful? I don’t think so but what I do know is that him being young forever or having immortality wouldn’t guarantee his life meaning either.

The idea of immortality and wanting to be forever young is a reflection of our own insecurities we have about the way that we spend our time in our lives.  Are we doing something meaningful with this blessing of life?  If your answer is no, you probably wish you could have some more time but if you feel like you do then you're living a life without regret, a life proud to have lived with no fear of death.

I'm not there yet, but one of these days I hope to be. 

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