Music News

An Open Letter to Jay-Z

Dear Jay,

Can I call you Jay? Thanks. I heard you were coming to town and I just wanted to make a little public service announcement sharing my concerns about your latest high-profile celebrity feud. Up against NaS and The Game, you handled yourself well, and I think it's fair to say that we all had your back. But this new beef has forced me to rethink my loyalties.

I'm referring, of course, to your recent rant against Auto-Tune. It's bad enough that you had to make a clichéd diss track the first single off your post-post-post-retirement album, but then you're out there knocking all the "rappas turnt sangas." Compared to "Takeover," this is pathetic. Even next to your hits on NBA player DeShawn Stevenson in "Blow the Whistle," it's lame.

Look, I can see where you're coming from. Ever since T-Pain adopted the pitch-correcting technology to create his hallmark sound, it seems everyone who's anyone in hip-hop (present company excluded) has been picking it up. Now, maybe you cut "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" because you're worried that it's bastardizing hip-hop. Or maybe you just think the effect is played out. Either way, the truth is that you should be above the fray on this issue. You're Sean Carter. Hova. Jiggaman. Your birthday ("December 4th") is a hood holiday. What more can I say: You built the dynasty by being one of the realest [fellows] out. So why are you crying about how Akon cuts a record? I mean, you've got 99 problems — does Auto-Tune need to be number 100? Why not spend that time relaxing, maybe at the 40/40 club, with ESPN on the screen?

I mean, really, you just released a song to bitch about decades-old technology. Isn't that a bit undignified for an artist and businessman of your caliber? Barack Obama didn't get to the Oval Office by campaigning against Barry Goldwater, and you can't stay at the top of your game if you're focusing on iTunes plug-ins. You might as well pick a beef with Milli Vanilli.

You can talk shit about Auto-Tune, but here's the truth: Your song kinda sucks. Even if I look past the part where you — the founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear — insinuate that you're not in it for the money, and then ignore the part where you butcher the hook from "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" like an American Idol reject, the writing still leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Besides all that, Auto-Tune is actually awesome. Without it, we wouldn't have 808s and Heartbreak. Hell, we wouldn't even have T-Pain. And anybody with access to YouTube knows that any given episode of Auto-Tune the News is easily twice as entertaining as "D.O.A."

And, seriously, Mr. C.E.O.: While you player-hate, Kanye's in the upper millions. And, yes, he knows you're going to criticize the hook on his song, but does he really give a fuck? No, he does not.

Let's compare. Here's you rapping about Auto-Tune, but off on a tangent: "Stop your blood clot crying / the kid, the dog / everybody dying / no lying."

Not the most original rhymes I've ever heard. Alan Keyes could have written that. Now listen to Auto-Tune the News, after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lamented the lack of women on the Supreme Court: "Ain't nobody have a breakfast with all sausage and no eggs, / We need a shorty with a hot body and sexy legs / When the court convenes it's an ancient sausage festival / Only two ovaries, 16 testicles."

That's brilliant. Especially compared to "D.O.A.": "Get your chain tooken / I may do it myself / I'm so Brooklyn!"

Actually, Jay, I'd say you are making Brooklyn look bad. Michael Gregory, the creator of Auto-Tune the News, lives in Brooklyn, too, though, admittedly he used to dribble (as a baby) down in VA (he's originally from Radford). Though he's a Brooklyn immigrant, I would argue that he is, without reasonable doubt, Brooklyn's finest. What else can I say about the dude, he gets busy?

You've still got a couple months before The Blueprint85 drops. So, please, Jay, take your time, regroup, and put out a product you can be proud of.

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Brian Bardwell