I love Massive Music Moments.
I live for those times when an album explodes throughout American society as more than a product — but as a piece of art that speaks to our deepest longings and desires and anxieties. In these Moments, an album becomes so ubiquitous it seems to blast through the windows, to chase you down until it’s impossible to ignore it. But you don’t want to ignore it, because the songs are holding up a mirror and telling you who we are at that moment in history.
These sorts of Moments can’t be denied. They leave an indelible imprint on the collective memory; when we look back at the year or the decade or the generation, there’s no arguing that the album had a huge impact on us. It’s pop music not just as private joy, but as a unifier, giving us something to share and bond over.
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Jay-Z’s verse on No Church In the Wild is one of the most interesting on Watch the Throne as it combines religion, spirituality, and philosophy. I tried to unpack most of what I heard but I’m sure there’s things I’m missing. It’s a deep verse. (Again, my point system is based on amateur boxing with 2 points for great lines, 1 point for good lines and 0 for anything else. But in this verse there’s no 0s.)
Tears on the mauseoleum floor
Blood stains the coliseum doors
[2 points for the first line and 2 points for the second—These are great, brief images, like complex snapshots made by words—those sorts of photos that seem to suggest a scene. These give us moments of power asserting itself on weakness. In some grand, giant building, a mauseoleum, someone has been made to cry. On the door of the grand, giant stadium someone’s blood has been spilled. (Possibly many someones.) In societally-massive places someone has hurt someone else and left the mark of it behind. Thus Jay-Z slides into the song as a detached narrator, passing no judgment on these scenes, like a director starting the film with still images that tell so much but leave many questions, too. Also, really nice poetic work here rhyming a pair of four-syllable-then-one-syllable words.]
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