For the fourth week in a row, Kanye West is at the top of Billboard's hit singles chart, with "Gold Digger." The song is also number one on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Pop 100, Hot Digital Songs, Hot Ringtones and Hot Rap Songs charts.
For 21 year now, middle-aged, square, boring, not-with-it Americans have lamented the popularity and success of MTV with the teen set. Announcement of the latest MTV award nominations is unlikely to change the older generation's impressions of MTV -- that it contributes to a debasement of American culture. Harrumph.
Why can't kids today prefer classical music and folk rock, music with real enduring value rather than the junk that's so common on MTV? Just like in the sixties, why couldn't kids appreciate Tommy Dorsey and Lawrence Welk rather than those long-haired, drug-using hippies like the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel?
Leading the field with six music video nominations is Jay-Z, a rap artist who has produced a gritty video called "99 Problems." Jay-Z's nominations in the MTV Music Video Awards include Best Video of the Year, Best Male Video and Best Rap Video. This, despite or perhaps becauseof friction between MTV and Jay-Z earlier this year over the questionable content of "99 Problems." The video features Jay-Z's own fictionalized murder. MTV asked director Mark Romanek to edit ten scenes He instead agreed to blur certain images. "I feel like Madonna," Jay-Z told Rolling Stone. "We're not interested in what MTV likes or doesn't like. If you make something good enough, MTV will want to show it."
True. The bottom line appears to be MTV's only value. The network announced it would air the video only after 6 p.m. (as if that would restrict any impressionable child from watching it). MTV ultimately yielded and rewarded Jay-Z for capturing the attention of audiences with shock, nominating him for six, count 'em six, awards.
Jay-Z's biography is typical of rap artists. Born and raised in the rough Marcy Projects of Brooklyn, NY, Jay-Z endured tough times when his father abandoned the family before the young rapper was even a teen. Without a man in the house, he became a self-supportive youth, turning to the streets, becoming a street hustler.
Together with friends Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke, he created Roc-a-Fella Records, a risky strategy for cutting out the middleman and making money for himself. He scored a deal with Priority Records (and then later Def Jam) to distribute his records. His debut album, Reasonable Doubt (1996), had strong sales."99 Problems," though seemingly typical of the worst underclass rap, may do quite well in the sales department and solve more than a few of Jay-Z's 99 problems.