Girl's Trip

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Girl's Trip

Recently, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with the music and movie review dream team: Two time pushcart nominee and author of On Sunday A Finch (Nomadic Press, 2015) - Cassandra Dallett / Award winning Performance Poet, Activist, Transformational Leader, and founder of The Body Is Not An Apology - Sonya Renee Taylor / Fine Artist Harriet Poznansky / Musician and producer Logan V Ford. We had crab omelettes and french toast and talked about "Girl's Trip", the new comedy from Director Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), and writer Kenya Barris (Black-ish).

Starring Regina Hall as Ryan, Queen Latifah as Sasha, Jada Pinkett Smith as Lisa, and

Tiffany Haddish as Dina.

 


 

Rohan: This is the greatest movie of all time. This is the best movie I have ever seen.

Cassandra: I feel like I haven’t laughed like that in a movie in a long time. I wanted to call up all my girlfriends. That was the feeling I got watching this. I LOVED the fact that they had ALL the black artists, ALL the music. I mean, they showcased EVERYBODY.

Rohan: How many cameos were there?  It was like a who’s who of black celebrities from the 90s. You have all these celebrities, who have had their own success in their own right, but are still buried. Like, a lot of people don’t really know how great they were.

Cassandra: As someone who is the same age as Queen Latifah and Jada, all of us who grew up with them, WE KNOW. But we don’t really care if you know. You SHOULD know. And the way it showed their college days, the dancing and the style; I loved all that.

Rohan: All the black cameos made me engage with the movie on an emotional level because of the nostalgia.  I’m seeing all these people who have influenced me in different ways and I’m like yo, this is bigger than a movie now.  Maxwell, Ne-yo, Larenz Tate. O Dawg.

Cassandra: It was SOOO good to see Larenz Tate. I been saying where’s he at? for years.  And he is still lookin' good.

Rohan: He is a good lookin' dude.  

Logan: It’s a testament to "black don’t crack". Ain’t nobody look older than they did back when they was hot, other than Morris Chestnut, a little bit. (<-----You petty for that last part : editor's note) 

Rohan: Man, Morris Chesnutt was there too!

Everybody: THEY BROUGHT EVERYBODY!

Cassandra: It was such a celebration of black fabulousness . By it being in New Orleans. By it being at the Essence festival.

 


 

Rohan: I think one of my favorite scenes is when they’re intoxicated. They do one of the best intoxication scenes I have ever seen.

Logan: I’ve had absinthe before. The immediate is so in your face while everything else is so far in the background. And everything is so real and so not real at the same time.

Rohan: To me the scene rivals the Wolf of Wall Street scene where Leo’s tryna get to the Lambo while on Quaaludes.

Cassandra: It definitely brought back some hilarious memories of my life.

Rohan: The scene where Mike Epps is selling Tiffany Haddish the absinthe, it just left me thinking that these two have a chemistry. They need to be doing more together. Their humor just plays off each other so well.

Cassandra: Just seeing his face on the screen makes me laugh.

Logan: Yup, all you gotta do is see Mikes Epps’s face and you laugh.

Sonya Renee Taylor enters the room “May I have a Mimosa?”

Cassandra: This crab omelette tho.

Sonya: It’s about that life?

Cassandra: YAAAZ.  So we were talking about the movie. And we were saying how it’s kinda ridiculous that we’re talking about the movie with no black women here. So we’re SUPER happy that you’re here.

Logan: Yeah this movie wasn’t made for me, so I would rather let the people who it’s made for speak on it.

Sonya: I’m interested in the thoughts of people who it’s not for.  Like, can people find themselves in a work that wasn’t necessarily made for them? That’s intriguing to me.

Logan: I found myself wishing that my aunties could have a trip like that. Coming up and seeing some of the stress that they were under, I definitely feel like they needed some of that shit.

 

Rohan: Sonya, we were just talking about the slapstick humor and how much they committed to it. They doubled down on it. They followed through so strongly.

Logan: Like the zipline scene.

Rohan: When Jada is on the zipline and she starts pissing all kinds up people beneath start fleeing, I got this feeling like oh, here's another moment where people are being told to be repulsed by black women.

 

Harriet: I think that's why Tiffany was so great in that situation, the way she came in after her and starting peeing too.

Sonya: That was some homie shit! That's some ride or die shit. She was not about to let her friend be up there alone peeing on people. It's actually not about peeing on people. It's saying what am I willing to do to be in solidarity with my friend? THAT is what I'm here for.

Cassandra: And it was so over the top and absurd that it worked.

Sonya: They gave permission for that to be a thing that black women can do. And that was not at all in the landscape.

Logan: Even though in real life we see it.

Sonya: Absolutely. I’ve had the bar fight scene. I’ve had the roll up on a dude whose fucking over your girlfriend scene. I’ve had every single one of those scenes.

Cassandra: ME TOO.

Sonya: These are real life scenes.

Cassandra: It was unapologetic and I LOVE that!

Sonya: And it merged these things they we say don’t go together. Like what is a respectable upper middle-class black experience? And what does that look like without all the rules? There were NO RULES!

Rohan: Like they shoulda got kicked off a wine tour by now. (Wine Tour reference here: reference)

Logan: It’s like a Venn Diagram. The shenanigans me and my homies be getting into and the shenanigans a group of homegirls would be getting into and that little part of the diagram wear they meet.  And you see things from the other side.  Me and my homies would crash a bachelorette party. Those types of stories are always told from our (men) side. It was cool seeing it from the other side. Like actually, whoever you thought you pulled might’ve pulled you.

Sonya: You THINK you were running this, but actually her and her girls were like bitch you gettin’ laid this week.

Logan: Sometimes I have to speak to my friends when we’re going out like You think you doin’ somethin’ but you really not. All you gotta do is SHOW UP and SHUT THE FUCK UP. Don’t talk yourself out of a good thing bruh.

 

 

Cassandra: Tiffany Haddish was definitely my favorite part of the movie. She was freakin’ hilarious.

Rohan: There was a scene toward the end of the movie where Jada Pinkett Smith visits her in a bar, and Jada says to her “We are so lucky to have you (as a friend).” And Tiffany says “You right, yall are SOOO lucky to have me.” And I feel like that was the whole movie right there. They were so lucky to have her in this movie, cuz really, it wouldn’t be shit without her.

Cassandra: It’s true. I mean, I love all those other women, but she really brought it to another level. You need somebody like that in your crew whose gonna break a bottle a beer over someone’s head and do whatever needs to be done.

Sonya: I needed a better arc for Tiffany Haddish’s character. We know she was there for comedy, but she’s also a richer character than that.

Cassandra: I found myself wondering, does she have a job to go back to? Is she going to be okay?

Rohan: I’m glad they had this moment when they were all together praying and Tiffany says –

Sonya: My heart just fills with joy thinking about all the fun we’re going to have together.

Rohan: Yeah that’s it.

Cassandra: To have this sense of sweetness and naivete in the most outlandish character felt really real to me.

Sonya: Tiffany Haddish is a breakout star. She's about to be in ALL the things. I got to know some of her backstory from watching an interview with her. Her mother was involved in a car accident and lived with a traumatic head injury that triggered schizophrenia. She went from being a highly functional single mother entrepreneur to becoming very nonfunctional. Tiffany at 10 years old was the oldest of 4 or 5 kids. She had to take care of the other kids. There is this way in which Tiffany has internalized her "failure" at it. The kids had to be placed in foster care. She felt like she was supposed to be good at taking care of them at 11 years of age. And when someone would say to her "You're crazy", it would be super triggering for her and she'd be like "I'M NOT CRAZY!" All of her wounds are on the surface, so I have this fear for her what with this level of visibility and fame.

Rohan: Hollywood may not be good to her. She may end up working with writers and directors who won't take as much care and consideration for her characters.

Sonya: I really hope she patterns her career after Melissa McCarthy. She's had a great A-list career in Hollywood, and she is known for playing comedic roles like this.

Rohan: I think that because of Hollywood's agenda of putting people in boxes that they always want people to be in, she might end up being used.

Logan: But Hollywood is changing a little bit, because now we have the Jay-Z, Denzel, and Will Smith who can greenlight projects. We have projects coming out that we have never seen before.

Cassandra: It all came out of Hip Hop.

Sonya: That's the interesting angle to the reality of these stories is that the people who were the pioneers of Hip Hop have now become the entertainment moguls who are informing the way the entertainment industry moves. It's an interesting long game. Will Smith wouldn't be who he is now without Hip Hop.

Logan: And it's like for every one that they let through, they tear another three or four down. And it can be any day.

 

 

Cassandra: The way that the film was a throwback to the 90s, made me think of how in that era you had black music, movies, and tvs shows dominating the airwaves. Shows like Living Single, movies like Set It Off, and Friday, I remember uproars of laughter in the theater. It's like we're having a Renaissance of that.

Sonya: I'm excited about unapologetic blackness right now. There are all these opportunities to be unapologetically black with little concern for the white gaze. If you are feeling it, then great, but if not, so be it. We didn't make it for you. We made it for us.

Logan: I'm so glad we don't have to hear shit like: You gotta crossover. You're going to alienate your audience. How are people going to identify with you? Shut the fuck up.

Rohan: I got chills when she did the grapefruiting demonstration.

Logan: The first thing I thought about was how it feels to get lemon in your eye. This ain't gonna end well.

Sonya: I think there were two camps. There were the people who were like mmmmm…Imma do that tonight. And then there people who were like NOOO! NO CITRUS! NO CITRUS!

Rohan: It wasn't the grapefruit that intrigued me, it was more how she was getting down ya dig?

Cassandra: It was real.

Logan: I feel like sloppy toppy is coming more into the mainstream. It didn't used to be like that.

Sonya: We have "tidy toppy" and we have "sloppy toppy". Which would you like? (laughing) I hope the lady who made the original grapefruit demonstration video is making money off of this.

Sonya: It was funny because I had a conversation with an older black woman who didn’t like the film. And I was like What? What’s wrong witchu?! So some of it I think is aesthetic. She’s not a slapstick comedy type of person. I also think it is just too far from her experience. I do think that there’s an age for it, otherwise for older folks its unrealistic and really silly.

Cassandra: (Looking at Sonia) I feel like it was made for OUR age, but it was funny enough for younger people.

Rohan: I feel like right now we’re rehashing 90s culture anyway, so for younger people, this isn’t so far-fetched.

Sonya: If you weren’t coming of age now or in the 90s, then you miss some of the references and the nostalgia. It’s not your nostalgia.

Cassandra: Just seeing Queen Latifah looking so great with her big beautiful self.

Sonya: Who got her skin glowing like that?

Logan: She look like she got a chef.

Sonya: In terms of strategic career moves, her unrepentant, unapologetic unwillingness to come out has actually served her well.

Everyone: She never came out. Never.

Sonya: BUT WE ALL KNOW SHE EATS PUSSY! I think she feels like it's her life, and she doesn't need to make an announcement about her personal life.

Cassandra: I feel her, because people are way too fascinated with who you're fucking and how you're fucking them. Queen Latifah was savvy enough to know that people would be so distracted by that, that it would overshadow her professional work.

Sonya: I loved that this movie gave visibility to talented actresses who have had to consider these dilemmas throughout their careers. Regina Hall been in every "black movie" since 1999. You may not know her name, but she been in everything. She put in work.

Logan: Also this movie pointed out the fact that there REAL people who sit behind REAL boardroom tables who have a financial vested interest in selling people a lie that you can have it all and this is what real life should be. And they don't do it from a position of morality, they're doing it from a position that says I'm selling this shit and y'all gon buy it and that's gonna affect your lives in real ways and y'all gon feel inadequate meanwhile I'm making this money.

 

 

Rohan: Y'all might be annoyed as hell by this question, but where was the redemption for the black male in this film? There didn't need to be any, but the conclusion I came to was that it didn't all come down to Lorenz Tate's character, but it was really all the black male cameos that we saw, and the feeling that gave us. I think that was enough for me.

Sonya: I think that was the intention. I feel like they had Lorenz Tate there to show that not all niggas is shit. Like here is a good dude who said he's 100% in if the right person comes along and he meets his equal. There's another guy who is about having this shared experience with a woman who does not have to be a hoe, who doesn't have all sorts of projections thrown on her. He's just glad to have the experience. I feel like there were enough of those scenes which are there intentionally because both of the directors are black men. Kudos to them, because I think they did a great job with figuring out what that lens is. It was just really honest.

Cassandra: And Ryan's (Reginal Hall) husband Stewart (Mike Colter), he just fucked up, but he wasn't diabolically evil. And he wasn't weak. I think sometimes these things are so overplayed like you have to hate this person. I didn't hate him, I just thought that she should leave him.

Logan: This movie was outlandish in ways, but also very grounded in other ways.

Sonya: I wanted Regina Hall and Larenz Tate to not be so booed up in the end. I didn't want it to be like that, like she just left her husband and now she's in another man's arms. Like can she just be her?

Cassandra: Hollywood always has to have that.

Rohan: But we never see them kiss.

Cass: I was glad for that.

Logan: They really respected the intelligence of the audience.

Sonya: And I HATE MOVIES! All they do is pick people apart. And I was like wow, there really isn't any of the sort of low blows. The comedy is raunchy, but it isn't putting anyone down.

Sonya: The last scene when Ryan breaks from the speech that was written for her disappointed me. She didn’t go far enough. It was a chance to have a literal standing ovation in the theater, and they missed it. The film writers really wrote a weak ass scene. They could have inspired…

Cassandra: She could have dispelled with respectability politics just like that. They watered it down.

Sonya: Yes, the screenwriters watered it down.

Cassandra: You should write what the speech should have been...

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4:44

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4:44

4:44

 RohanCan I just say “Nigga neva go Eric Benet”?

Logan: Eric Benet is the original Meek Mills. He got his L without even trying. He wasn’t even in the conversation.

Cassandra: That line really sums up who he (Jay-Z) would have become if he didn’t work it out with her (Beyonce).  He woulda been THAT dude. Everywhere he went for the rest of forever everybody would have said “You fucked THAT up?” “You fucked BEYONCE off?” 

A lot of my women friends, I know how much work we do.  We try to evolve. We try to learn. We try to change. And there's a lot of dudes I grew up with that just seem super stuck. So its good that he’s now saying I’m gonna evolve too. And it’s so refreshing.

Rohan: In a lot of cases the men don’t have to evolve. Society allows them not to.

Vernon: I know many people who are saying But wait, he may have just admitted to cheating on Beyonce.  But that’s growth though. Do we want him to just stay that person who would’ve ended up like Eric Benet?

Cassandra: He would have faded into obscurity.

Logan: He woulda been dead.

Cassandra: It was brave for a street dude to come out and say I’m going to therapy. I’m going to save my marriage.

Vernon: I think that’s been this whole year in black music, just really pointing the black community towards the self help

Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate
Marie Antoinette, baby, let ‘em eat cake
— Jay-Z "Smile"

Cassandra: His mom came out on a Hip Hop album. That’s definitely a first.

Vernon: I always knew his mom was gay. One of my friends used to live in the same community as him, so when she transferred to our school she was like Everybody know his mom a lesbian. I was just like No we didn’t. Thanks for the news!

Cassandra: What he is doing is so timely.

Logan: Even in taking the risks, and being brave, and putting out truths on this and that, he still did it in the most Jay-Z way possible.  He didn’t really say anything that we didn’t already know. We been knew he cheated on Beyonce since the elevator fight. Even in confession he does it in an arms-length Jay-Z kinda way.  I think what’s notable is what he DIDN’T say.  He gave us NO hints as to who Becky is. NONE. There is no reason to be messy.

Vernon: Thinking of the song “Smile” takes me to conversations I’ve had about how coming out of the closet isn’t just a queer persons thing. Sometimes family members as well have to admit to themselves, like parents have to admit to themselves that their child is gay, like Jay-Z had to admit that his mother was gay.  

Logan: He’s up to quadruple entendres at this point. I saw the lyrics written out and it’s really even more poetic than I thought while I was listening. He seemed to really reel himself in. He kept it pure and brought it back to basics. 

Cassandra: I think a lot of lyricists could take a master class from Jay on cutting out the bullshit and telling your story. He’s very efficient.

Vernon: One of the things that struck me is when he mentioned Tupac’s nose ring. I think that he’s holding masculinity accountable there.  He was saying that we would’ve clowned dudes for wearing a nose ring until Tupac made it cool. And having Frank Ocean on the album to me says he’s breaking down a lot of walls for people.

Cassandra: He was the guy who crossed over the threshold and became SUPER rich, and people were criticizing the fact that he was wearing sandals instead of Tims. Like, you want him to wear Tims to the beach? It’s absurd. Be real. Be a human.

Rohan: Gotta stay hard at all times.

Vernon: People are saying that this album is speaking to “Lemonade”, but I think it’s speaking more to “A Seat At The Table”.

Rohan: I’ve been saying the same thing.  It sounds more like "A Seat At The Table", just in its clarity, it’s confession.

Logan: I feel like this whole album is a dig at Kanye West.  He used No I.D.’s production for the entire album. NO I.D. was Kanye’s mentor. So that’s Jay saying Look dawg, you are still replaceable. You can see yourself out and we’re still gonna be good over here.

Vernon: There are a few tracks on there that sound like they were produced by Kanye!

Rohan: Did you see the album art? It looks like its referencing The Life of Pablo. Same color scheme and black font.

Logan: No ID produced his ass off. That’s one of the first things I noticed. Production is top notch.  It is savant level sampling.  It was uncluttered. It was bare bones and simple, yet lush and complex at the same time.

Rohan: It didn’t have the grandiosity of a Kanye record. It didn’t have the anthem. 

Cassandra: Jay doesn’t have Kanye’s anger. Kanye’s still at war with himself and it comes through in the music.

On first listen, I paid attention to the music more than lyrics. I’m the same age as Jay, and the whole album felt like a salute to the music we grew up on. So grown. Like Nina Simone. He has enough money to clear those samples, and this is what it looks like.

Rohan: For his whole career he has boasted about dealing and the lifestyle that it afforded him. It’s good to hear him talk about how that haunts him.

Vernon: Like selling drugs to your own community, to family members. HE SAID THAT. And it needed to be said.

Logan: He also alluded to the time he shot his brother. Jay-Z really a crab ass nigga in a lot of ways (laughing), but at least he can admit it.

Vernon: That is a quality that my favorite writers have.  The ability to be real with yourself. There is something to that.

Logan: I hear people calling this shit a classic already, on that bullshit, like 48 hour classic. I don’t know if it is or not, but I can tell its an inflection point like the Blueprint was. He’s setting the blueprint for how to be an elder statesman in hip hop and still make relevant music without playing yourself. I don’t know if it’s a classic.  All of his classics had that one track. When you think about the album, you think of that track.  This one is such a solid work as a unit. Nothing really stands out far enough to take away attention from the rest.

Cassandra: I’m also thinking about the new Tribe album and De la. These are old heads still making relevant stuff. In that company, he’s doing damn well.

Rohan: I think this project, more than any other, showcases Jay-Z’s talent as a poet.  No ID’s production gave him so much space. It’s like a superhighway.

Logan: “The Story of O.J.”.  What can we say that he hasn’t already covered in the song?

Cassandra: He (O.J.) really thought that he was THAT dude that he was above it, he was gonna surpass race, and that he was no longer black. That was Hov saying O.J. tried it yall. It doesn’t work.

Rohan: Can we talk about the shots, the subliminal shots? There’s SO MANY. And all of them were knockout punches.

Logan: Subliminal shots at Drake. Subliminal shots at Future. Subliminal shots at Migos.

Rohan: Subliminal shots at you. Subliminal shots at me.

Logan: Talking bout guns you never gon use. And its not just Migos, its this whole culture of…

Cassandra: “Cooking up dope with an uzi?”

Logan: YES.

Rohan: The brilliance of Jay-Z is that he weaves these shots seamlessly into his subject matter so that if you’re not paying attention, they could go unnoticed. But you notice, because you are paying attention. Because its Hov.  On “Kill Jay-Z” he talks about facing the prospect of losing his family: “I don’t know what you would’ve done in the future other niggas playin’ football with your son.” 

Logan: And that ain’t even a diss. It’s just true. Like damn.

Rohan: It’s FACTS.

Logan: With 4:44, he kept it short. And that means you have a lot of confidence in the work. It reminds me a lot of Common’s BE. One producer, its got a real vintage feel to it and its short.

Vernon: I like how in the song “Family Feud” he references the Al Sharpton selfie, so we know he wrote it in the last 2 weeks and it made it to the album!

Rohan: I think it was savvy to reference Bill Cosby to sort of establish some distance as if to say, “I’m not THAT guy”.

Logan: PILL Cosby. (chuckling)

Let the record show that Al Sharpton caught shots at the end of American Gangster and I’m glad he’s still catching shots from Jay-Z.

Rohan: I originally heard that 4:44 was supposedly a tribute to President Obama. It was just someone taking a wild guess.

Cassandra: And you KNOW Obama is listening to it. Doesn’t that make you happy? Like he could just be sitting here with us choppin it up and have opinions about it.  I had a whole dream that Michelle Obama was hangin out with me. I was so sad when I woke up. Like DON’T LEAVE! DON’T LEAVE!

Vernon: The track called Moonlight. 

Everybody: OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!

Vernon: He referenced La-La Land.

Logan: Even when we win we gon lose.

Y’all niggas still signin’ deals? Still?
After all they done stole, for real?
After what they done to our Lauryn Hill?
And y’all niggas is ‘posed to be trill?
That’s real talk when you behind on your taxes
And you pawned all your chains
And they run off with your masters
And took it to Beverly Hills
While we in Calabasas
And my head is scratchin’
’Cause that shit is backwards
That shit ain’t right
— Jay-Z "Moonlight"

Rohan: You ever see an old boxer, or a basketball player who you once loved, but lately you’ve been feeling they’ve lost it? They’re washed up. But then they have one game. ONE GAME, where they remind you of who they were at every stage in their career. They show flashes of all the moves you onced ooohed and awwwed over.

Logan: Yeah. Kobe’s last game. 60 points.

 

Rohan: I feel 4:44 is like that. I feel like this broke trap music for a split second. Like Wait, we been listening to this BULLSHIT? I don’t think trap music is bullshit, but it felt that way while I was listening to this album. Trap music is alotta things but it ain’t poetry.

Vernon: Just hearing Beyonce saying amen on “Family Feud” coming in with that harmony.

Logan: Her harmony game is so sick.

Rohan: Did it remind anyone of that Amerie track?

Vernon: YES. And Amerie is the queen of summertime.

Rohan: I think this move (4:44) really shows Jay-Z’s greatness. If there was any doubt before.

Cassandra: Yeah I think everyone expected him to just fade to black after Lemonade.

Vernon: I read an interview that said that Beyonce listened to every song and gave her approval. And I just feel like with Lemonade, she set him up for the opportunity to give his half of it.

Cassandra: What they’re doing is like the greatest thing for black love and all love. Basically saying WE GO THROUGH SHIT. And you make decisions on how you’re gonna fix it.  They’re opening up conversations for people.

Rohan: These are statements that only he could make and affect that many people with it. He’s a leader whether he wants to be or not.

Vernon: That could be what 4:44 told him. Jay-Z you can’t be talking about runnin the streets no more, unless you talkin about buying the street.

Rohan: People criticized him for bragging about buying art on Magna Carta Holy Grail. In 4:44, he answered them by explaining that its more than just flaunting status, it’s an investment for his children.

Conor McGregor holding the money phone

Conor McGregor holding the money phone

Vernon: There’s already videos and memes saying A whole buncha niggas are erasing their Instagram pictures of them posing with money.

Lil Boosie responds to Jay-Z critique

Rohan: You know what’s better than throwing away money in a strip club?

Everyone: CREDIT.

Logan: It reminds me of "Fuck a jersey, I’m thirty plus. Give me a crisp pair of jeans,nigga button up". He changed the game with one line.

Cassandra: People started wearing button ups HELLA fast.

Vernon: He’s also giving so much knowledge. Talking about owning your masters, and speaking to legacy.

Rohan: He is saying things that I think every Jay-Z fan has wanted him to say for years.  This is like Moment of Clarity the album.

Take those moneys and spread ‘cross families
My sisters, Hattie and Lou, the nephews, cousins and TT
Eric, the rest to B for whatever she wants to do
She might start an institute
She might put poor kids through school
My stake in Roc Nation should go to you
Leave a piece for your siblings to give to their children too
TIDAL, the champagne, D’USSÉ, I’d like to see
A nice peace-fund ideas from people who look like we
— Jay-Z "Legacy"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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