Page Kennedy’s Freestyle Replies To JAY-Z’s Story Of O.J. & Adds A Chapter (Audio)
JAY-Z made one of his most provocative songs in years with 4:44‘s “The Story Of OJ,” while dropping jewels about ownership, accumulating wealth, and still dealing with institutional racism in 2017. Along the way, Hov apparently chided some of Rap’s underclassmen. “Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear / There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here,” spit the MC. Whether it was aimed at past collaborators including 50 Cent (who has a history of back-and-forth lyrics with Jay), Future, Meek Mill, or others entirely, it got the Rap community talking.
Detroit, Michigan’s Page Kennedy is not an MC who can say he’s worked with JAY-Z. However, like many, he had plenty to say about the points made in Jay’s lead 4:44 single. Thereby, the actor/MC known for playing “U-Turn” in Weeds made a “Story Of OJ” remix-reply of sorts, in verse. He shows both sides: the younger generation and the so-called “Old Heads” who debate about Rap and all that goes with it. After voicing the perspectives of both, he seemingly finds the middle ground.
“You ain’t never had money and then get some / It’s kinda like getting old and you got no wisdom / So I understand why ni**as posin’ with the money phones / ‘Cause when we used to call collect, ya didn’t connect / ‘Cause in the pen you get one call to your homie’s home / We used to take that ‘don’t accept’ as disrespect / So when you finally get the bag, gotta stunt / Gotta pose, gotta floss, gotta post, gotta front,” spits Page, perhaps replying on the youth’s behalf. He raps about coming up from poverty and around incarceration, two circumstances that Jay can relate to. In his rap, Kennedy believes the “money phone” may be a smaller, more attainable “Bentley, Benz, or Beamer”—as Jay brandished earlier in his career. Later, Kennedy says that those with true wealth pose with American Express black cards, not money. That echoes Jay’s point about the importance of credit. He also adds that people with generational wealth may not dress the part while owning some of the labels that poorer consumers clamor to own. “Broke ni**a / Coke ni**a / Dope ni**a / Hope ni**a / Stop sleepin’ on the truth and stay woke, ni**a / Still a ni**a,” Page raps in his rendition.
In the next verse, the Motown MC finds the position of the Hip-Hop purist who feels a disconnect with the current music. Talking about what he believes the art-form is, he raps, “The battlefield where the stage is / Blood and ink smeared on the pages of Page’s / En-rage-ment / It’s a sport and it’s meant to be competitive / With right hooks, but now the right hook is just repetitive / Auto-Tune is masking vocal deficiencies / Complex lyrical schemes now simplicity / Gotta be kiddin’ me / Nope, it’s all facts / This new Rap, I don’t know what to call that.”
Later, he seems to appease all sounds. The purebred lyricist makes a case for Lil Boosie, Gucci Mane, and others while asserting that Hip-Hop has sub-genres and different seasons for unique styles. Page Kennedy cleverly mediates the points JAY-Z made. As Hov has another #1 album (an MC at the age of 47), the negotiation that Kennedy ultimately makes says a lot. We can all have our tastes, and still be a part of the same bigger culture.
This song premiered at Mass Appeal.
#BonusBeat: While Page Kennedy is not a JAY-Z collaborator, he did know Biggie Smalls:
Torn Pages released in March.