JAY-Z - MY LIFE: Why is Jay-Z here? I thought this was about real HipHop. Jigga is one of the most commercial rappers out there. He’s part of the problem.

These are just some of the comments I’ve received with regard to the Jay-Z print. So why is Jigga here? While it’s true Jay-Z has perfected the commercial rap formula and created legions of less talented followers, the fact remains that Jay-Z is a skilled MC. Now the fact that in recent years he has opted not to put those skills on display is another matter.

If you don’t believe me, with regard to Jay-Z’s skills, go back and listen to “Reasonable Doubt” where Jay is dropping lines like:

In 9-6 I be the only MC with a flu /
Yeah I rhyme sick, I be what you tryin’ to do

Straight bananas / can a n---a, see me?
Got the US Open, advantage Jigga
Serve like Sampras, play fake a rappers like a campus
Le Tigre, son you're too eager
You ain't havin it? Good, me either

No question / I got more Black chicks between my sheets than Essence

The only problem as I see it is that the beleaguered hustler schtick played out after this first album. Essentially, he did it as good as it could be done here. His career after that has been album after album of pandering to radio and commercial rap audiences by choice, for money.

Jigga, like Nas is basically the Randy Moss of the HipHop game in that he has superior skills and can be as good or better than anyone in the game when he feels like it, but like the aforementioned #84, Jigga only displays his skills when he chooses to.

And like Nas, I continue to hold out hope that Jigga will return to just rockin’ mics and put the cars, women and clothes aside.

More specifically this piece was inspired by one of my favorite singles, “In my lifetime,” which appeared on the 1998 "Streets is Watching" soundtrack, but I first heard it in 1995 (I believe).

Like most of the other pieces in the series, I get inspired to create them while listening to music by the artist. So the line featured in this piece is from that single:

I know the price, know the risks know the wrongs and the rights still my blood flows ice, it’s just my life.