Jay-Z: Relationship and Marriage Role Model? Eh, I Don’t Think So

Yeah, man. They bought it hook, line, and sinker. It cracks me up too.

Aside from the obvious, the 2008 public ascension of the Obama family had numerous peripheral effects on our culture, including (but not limited to)….

1. We all joked about this at the time, but you can make the argument now that Barack Obama did actually bring light-skinned men “back in style.” Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but at this moment the most popular young rapper, most popular young black entertainer, and most popular young black athlete all easily pass the paper bag test. Hmm.

2. We assumed that seeing the Obama family in the White House would have a panoramic effect on dating and relationships in the black community. It did, but just not in the way we expected it to, as “Wait a second, if Michelle found Barack, how come the rest of you educated black chicks can’t find any men?” became the dominant conversation of the past three years.

While he didn’t exactly sign any bills or pass any laws to make sure that light-skinned black men would no longer be oppressed, Obama’s status as a symbol, a cultural icon is so powerful that he’s able to affect change by just existing.

Jay-Z, the most famous new father on Earth, obviously doesn’t have the same cultural cache as the president, but he’s extremely influential nonetheless. So influential, in fact, that there’s been a burgeoning conversation that Jay’s apparent love for Beyonce and his new daughter might possibly have some peripheral effect on black males everywhere, who’d hopefully stop (collectively) dicking around and finally realize how cool it is to be a loving husband and doting father.

This conversation crescendoed yesterday with the release of “Glory” — a song devoted to his infant daughter and featuring his infant daughter. Saccharin? Sure, but if Google and the blogosphere are any indications, it definitely helped to cement Jay-Z’s new status as a certified positive relationship and marriage role model…a sentiment that’s about as far from the f*cking truth as you can get.

Again, Jay-Z does appear to be in a very happy and healthy relationship, and that’s commendable and enviable. But calling the Jigga Man a relationship role model is like lauding the Nazis for turning Germany’s economy around; you can’t completely eschew the means just so you can lavish praise on the end. In Jay-Z’s case, his super duper awesome marriage is a direct result of the decades of dirt he did to get where he is now.

But, forget about that for a sec. Let’s say that Jay-Z is actually a relationship and marriage role model. Since he’s a role model, a young man would be wise to attempt to follow in his footsteps. In order to do this, the young man would have to do each of the following things:

Spend his late teens and early 20′s amassing a small fortune while being a malignant cancer to his community.

Use the money accumulated by being a cancer to fund a new business venture.

Amass an even larger fortune by unapologetically outlining, in detail, everything he did while he was being a malignant cancer to his community. Do this for 15 years.

Sleep with perhaps hundreds of different women, and amass more of a fortune by unapologetically outlining, in detail, every possible way to diss, demean, degrade, and just generally sh*t on the women he was able to sleep with. Do this for 15 years, too.

Use status and fortune obtained by A) being a cancer, B) outlining exactly how he was a cancer, C) sh*tting on women, and D) outlining exactly how he sh*t on women to bag one of the most sought after women on the planet. Marry said woman.

Ironically, most of the statements I’ve heard about Jay-Z being a relationship role model have come from women.

Why is this ironic? Well, they’re right. Jay-Z already is a role model…for all the men who want to be able to do as much dirt as they can in their 20′s and 30′s and still be able to pull a young hot chick when they’re a decade away from AARP and finally ready to settle down.

These women fail to realize that they’re indirectly praising and promoting the type of behavior they abhor. While it’s true that Jay-Z probably does genuinely love and adore his wife, men like that can only consider “loving” after they’ve made monsters out of dozens of women. Basically, his life is the blueprint for how to be a successful diva dude.

I imagine the tone of this post makes it seem like I’m anti-Jay-Z, and that’s totally not true. I think he’s many positive things. The greatest rapper of all-time. A savvy businessman. An instinctual opportunist. A cultural icon. A real life Horatio Alger tale. A (seemingly) great husband and father.

But, as Panama’s piece last week about Common reminds us, we have to be careful with assigning certain titles to people who don’t deserve or even want them. And, regarding Jay-Z’s new status as the marriage and relationship role model for young black men, be careful what you wish for because it just might happen.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Blue Ivy Carter: The First Black “Celebrity Baby”

Everyone reading this can probably recall two or three news events that impacted you so much that you’ll always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard about it.

These occurrences, forever etched into our consciousness, can be split into two different types, and both types have to do with how we felt when we first became aware of them

Type 1. “This is some historic sh*t.”

Type 2.Damn. I didn’t realize it at the time, but earlier I witnessed some historic sh*t. I should probably make sure I remember this.”

For instance, I was sitting on the couch at my parent’s house during the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl, and from the moment Ron Artest jumped into the stands I knew I was watching something I’d always remember. I immediately knew it would be a landmark event, immediately knew it would dominate any conversation I had for the next 72 to 96 hours, immediately knew it would have a transformative impact on the NBA, immediately knew that I’d always remember exactly where I was when it happened, and immediately knew it would cement Ron Artest’s status as the highest-functioning crazy motherf*cker on the planet.

On the other hand, the “etchededness” of 9/11 — an event I’m sure would be on most American’s lists — wasn’t as immediate. Sure, I remember exactly where I was when first hearing that tower one was hit by a plane, but it wasn’t until later that morning that I realized exactly how historic of an event that would be. (The first thing I said after my roommate woke me up to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center? “They need to stop letting Harlem n*ggas in flight school.”)

The news of the birth of Blue Ivy Carter does neither. I will not remember where I was when I first heard saw it trending on Twitter, and if anyone outside of the Carter/Knowles circle has “Where I was when I first heard Beyonce had a baby” forever etched into their brains right now, they must have some sh*tty-ass brains.

With that being said, I wonder if, 20 to 25 years from now, the birth of Blue Ivy Carter will be an historically relevant moment. I realize this seems like hyperbole — she’s not even two days old and it sounds like I’m already reserving her star on the Walk of Fame — but she’s already made history. She’s the first African-American ever who was famous before she was even born.

Think about it. There have been black child stars (Michael Jackson, Emmanuel Lewis, Raven Symone, etc), black stars who had children at the height of their fame, famous children of uber-popular black people (Malia and Sasha Obama) and even established black stars who had children while at the height of their fame and saw those children become famous while they were still children (Willow and Jaden Smith).

But, never has there been a child produced by an African-American couple while both mother and father were A-list celebrities; a baby whose potential first name, last name, size, facial features, complexion, future, inherited traits, musical talent, business acumen, connection to the Illuminati, and existence (Remember, there was an actual debate a few weeks ago over whether Beyonce was even pregnant.) was discussed, debated, joked on, and theorized about by hundreds of thousands of people before she was even here.

With all that being said, I have no idea what all of this means. I have no idea if her birth is truly the most “post-racial” moment ever. I have no idea if Blue Ivy Carter is truly the most post-modern baby ever. I have no idea what her birth signifies, or if it even signifies anything at all. .

And, aside from the likelihood of Blue Ivy Carter being the first African-American baby to cause a multi-million dollar bidding war for the rights to print her pictures first, I (obviously) have no idea how the life of the first black celebrity baby will play out. I know it won’t be “normal” but I’m not going to assume it’s going to be completely abnormal either.

But while I don’t know what any of this means, I do know that the birth of Blue Ivy Carter definitely matters. How, you ask? I don’t know. I know that it matters/will matter, but I don’t know why. Ask me again in 20 to 25 years.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)