What would you rather be – underpaid or overrated?
When Jay Z uttered this bar on Kanye West’s track off of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album, it was said in context of his career up until that point. He has always struggled with the perception of selling out for more money instead of being a real “artist” and has said so lyrically many times including the infamous “dumbed down my lyrics to double my dollars” rhyme. A lot has happened since then for Jay in more areas of his life that led to his new 4:44 album being one of the more anticipated albums in all of music.
Watching a multi-millionaire megastar’s life unravel in front of the world was food to a world that feasts on controversy. Watching the impenetrable rapper than survived the New York drug game, weathered the exploding 90s rap scene, outlived Tupac and The Notorious BIG and lived after Ether come down to Earth in an elevator with his wife and sister-in-law was probably cathartic to his peers. Those peers include rappers and the executives that sign them plus the big businessmen that he is listed with in Forbes (not in the rapper section). His wife, Beyonce, released the show-stopping album Lemonade which fueled rumors of infidelity within the most powerful couple in the American entertainment industry and birthed several popular sayings that ensured that the notoriously private Jay Z would have to publicly suffer through this humiliation.
Hov’s features on I Got The Keys (w/Future on DJ Khaled’s Major Key album) and Drug Dealers Anonymous (Pusha T single) were business as usual and he didn’t tip his hand to making a statement to Lemonade. It was improbable that Jay would be able to ignore this one though so when Roc Nation started promotion for an unknown 4:44 project of some kind – the world started stirring. It started with “Adnis”, which was a bonus track after all, and ended with the outright release of the album on June 30, 2017. I was in Jamaica at the time of the release and listened to it as much as I could on Tidal while on vacation (because I don’t stop working – SMH). From the opening track, “Kill Jay-Z”, I knew this was not the typical Jay album. In fact, this was the album Jay promised to deliver twice and didn’t – The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse and The Black Album. This album was vulnerable, true, raw and human. I remember the interviews for those albums and his keyword “introspective”. Yeah, that didn’t go far. We won’t get into Blueprint 2 (which should’ve been a single disc) and The Black Album (an album I don’t have in my top 3 Jay albums – DON’T STOP READING YET) which both teased Hov opening up more but left a lot to be desired, if comparing to 4:44 especially.
By opening up himself so much on this album, Jay Z opened up a Pandora’s Box specially made for himself. The “I Got The Keys” song and video with Future seems weird now since Future took exception to the “In the future, other niggas playing football with your son” line on Kill Jay-Z. Being from the South, I know firsthand how a lot of people feel about Jay Z so the slight about money to the ear hit a lot of people pretty deep and they reacted quick and sharply. Jay has always used clever subliminals and played with words in his music but never has the backlash been so… overwhelming. What’s understood doesn’t have to be explained but I’m going to do it anyway: Jay Z is the at the top of the rap food chain. All the arguments about Drake and Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole…yeah, I hear you…but let’s keep it really real for a minute. No other rapper has the money, power, respect, legacy, bars, empire and queen like Shawn Carter does and on 4:44 he accepts this position and tries to give back jewels and advice to those coming behind him and that’s precisely where we see the trouble.
Jay Z was never supposed to be here. He outlasted EVERYONE who was supposed to rule hip-hop: Tupac, Notorious BIG, DMX, Eminem, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, etc. in terms of just staying alive, staying relevant or staying active. The death of Roc-A-Fella and the split from Biggs and Dame would’ve been death for anybody else but that turned into Roc Nation and Live Nation contracts and the J.Cole monster. All albums after The Black Album have been mixed media promoted projects with partners ranging from GM and ESPN to Samsung and Tidal. His domestic dispute in the elevator turned into two culture-shocking albums from him and his wife (wanna throw in a dope album by Solange in there too). And with all this and more to say – it’s clear to see that Jay Z is different from most of these rappers and they can’t relate to his life and as such, anything said to them is an offense as if he’s talking down. Having spent a career shitting on everybody else, what else could be truer for Jay Z than what he has told us?
“Niggas’ll love you but hate you cause they can’t be you.”
“Everybody wanna be the king til shots ring. You laying in the balcony with holes in your dreams. Or you’re Malcolm, scratched out, getting distracted by screams. Everybody get ya hands out my jeans!”
Or we can just throw the whole “So Appalled” verse out there.
How should I begin this? I’m just so offended
How am I even mentioned by all these fucking beginners?
I’m so appalled, I might buy the mall
Just to show niggas how much more I have in store
I’m fresher than you all, so I don’t have to pause
All of y’all can suck my balls through my drawers
Dark Knight feeling, die and be a hero
Or live long enough to see yourself become a villain
I went from the favorite to the most hated
But would you rather be underpaid or overrated?
Moral victories is for minor league coaches
And ‘Ye already told you we major, you cockroaches
Show me where the boats is, Ferrari Testarossas
And Hammer went broke so you know I’m more focused
I lost thirty mil, so I spent another thirty
‘Cause unlike Hammer, thirty million can’t hurt me
Fucking insane, the fuck am I saying?
Not only am I fly, I’m fucking not playing
All these little bitches too big for they britches
Burning they little bridges, fucking ridiculous
I wrote a lot…sorry…
“This was meant to be a haiku/ But my story’s too wide to fit inside a line or two”.
Is this just a moment in time or the beginning of a change?
Congratulations are in order for the first female urban artist to top the Billboard 100 since Lauryn Hill did it in 1998 with “Doo Wop (That Thing)”. Cardi B did the improbable…kinda. This is a new world and the rules we used to play by are out of the window now. All content is instantaneous and no act is guaranteed to last unless it/he/she stays relevant. So to say it’s improbable is wrong since anything is possible now.
Cardi B has been grinding her ass off (thankfully not literally) this year and it has paid off in dividends. I can’t lie – I didn’t see this coming but I’m glad that it has come to fruition. I am a male artist who hates the way female artists in black music are positioned and treated with special frustrations going out to the rap business. I’m not really interested in spending time and money on sex objects rapping. I’m good on that in my personal life so why would I spend money on a woman playing a role that I already have filled? I want to see a female rapper rap about things men rap about but from their perspective. Let me be on the outside looking in so that I can be a fan and not just a guy wanting to have sex with what I see.
Lauryn Hill changed a lot back in 1998. I know it’s not popular to talk about our legends in glowing terms in hip-hop but I’m doing it anyway. Before she…changed…Lauryn Hill spoke to EVERYBODY. Don’t matter who you were, you felt that energy and it spoke to you somehow. She was #1 on Billboard but also #1 in terms of impact. She eclipsed her already major group The Fugees before Fergie and The Black Eyed Peas. She sang and rap on the same album – well. As a matter of fact, her bars were on par with male contemporaries and her singing was just beyond. Her message was universal. But this isn’t a Lauryn Hill piece, so let me slow down and talk about the pressure that Cardi B may or may not be under. I mean it’s all about perception right? If she doesn’t give a shit about it, then no pressure. 19 years after Lauryn, Cardi B made history but will it stop there as her story? Lemme explain.
I’ll keep it straight up and down: There’s still a lot of similarities to Nicki Minaj with Cardi B. They got that New York, abrasive, heavy voice rap style that’s more street than sweet. The difference is Cardi B didn’t come with all the gimmicks and extra voices and Barbie stuff. Nicki Minaj was a machine and made a lot of money and has a shitload of fans but Cardi B is closer to the ground and is more relatable. Nicki Minaj spit fire on “The Warning” instrumental, got some good buzz but clearly not enough and changed up some time after that while Cardi B CLEARLY reworked “No Flockin” by Kodak Black and is the presumed queen of rap. Crazy.
By the way: I don’t like how quick ya’ll crown the head of female rap as if the shit is the WWE title. Jesus, let us get more than Bodak Yellow or ShEther before we throwing out thrones and crowns. Nicki got it by default but she kept it by doing what she does. Stop that shit and support female rappers long enough for it to make sense to crown them.
By the way PT.2: Female rappers – stick around longer so I won’t sound stupid with that rant.
Back to business though, Cardi B can parlay this into changing the way things are going for female rappers. Remy Ma is here but she doesn’t have the buzz. Nicki is definitely still here but she’s, uhh, been through some things and we gotta see how she’ll come back out. The pressure is on and it can bust pipes or make diamonds. Riding the wave and dropping more hot songs before releasing an album BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE is key now. While the people care is the best time to drop that album and what the people care about is what Cardi B is doing and saying. She’s everything that these women on social media are saying they are and she’s rapping it out for them. Bodak Yellow hit a nerve that has been there but untapped in such a way and it didn’t matter if a female dropped it – it dominated. She went from stripping to social media personality to reality show star to buzzing rapper seemingly overnight. I think what should happen next is her team should rally around her and help create an album that helps dictate the direction and solidify female rap for the foreseeable future.
Cause I ain’t got time for no more Paris Hilton bullshit.
Author’s Note: Don’t come for me for inaccuracies or opinions or any of that shit. I SAID WHAT I SAID and I didn’t double check it because [insert whatever makes you feel better about it]. I love ya’ll though.
MONTGOMERY, AL – Change is inevitable. No matter how much time went into its creation and maintenance – nothing stays the same and nor should it. The Numbers Game mixtape/EP (released Jan. 2016) began a change in Mid-Flight Music Group as well as Mid-Flight LLC. as a whole. As the ranks closed in, the operations had to do the same.
But it’s 4th quarter 2017 now and that’s over with. I’m no longer ALL MFMG has, although I will always be ALL MFMG -…you get it. There’s so much more coming that I had to make the change to what I intended to do all along.
The mobile app, MFMGNow! will be changed to ALLMFMG and soon it will be clear that this is more than music. MFMGNow! was created as a replacement for me handing out business cards or telling people my website and hoping that they would visit the site. While it served its purpose, there was a ceiling that the application had being that it was strictly about music as well as it being not available for users with tablets. Now we go into the future with an app that will not be downloaded from an app store (Google Play/Apple App Store) but rather can be visited once and saved to a phone/tablet or computer on November 1.
Moving forward, ALLMFMG on social media will no longer be Ty’Ron’s account but will rather be Mid-Flight LLC. and everything around it. Being that the app changes, this has to be the same way. My social media handle will change to @tyron_ybe on Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat and the @allmfmg account will start anew on Twitter and Instagram.
WHO: Ty’Ron & Mid-Flight LLC.
WHAT: Application transition (MFMGNow! –> ALLMFMG)
WHEN: November 1, 2017
WHAT: Social Media handle change
WHEN: October 13, 2017
On March 22, 2010, I founded Mid-Flight LLC. with the immediate aim of establishing Mid-Flight Music Group for my new music life. I don’t remember if I chose this day on purpose or not but I noticed it once I finished with all of the paperwork. This is key because on June 22, 1986, I was born in Montgomery, Alabama. With Mid-Flight being a rebirth for me, it cannot be understated how much the day 22 means to me.
It’s all rocky as a new business owner. It’s even rockier as an amateur rapper/producer/engineer in one. I didn’t celebrate anything in 2011 – there was nothing to celebrate. I had the first Stallion out, but as would be my Achilles heel, it went under the radar and I wasn’t too solid with my style. Post Stallion II: Iron Mic, I was working on Married 2 The Game and eventually 10 The Hard Way when I heard Jay Z’s song “Glory” that he made for his newborn daughter Blue Ivy. It made me think about Mid-Flight, which was MY child. I wrote “Congratulations” pretty quick off the inspiration of the lines he repeated throughout the song:
“The most amazing feeling I feel
Words can’t describe the feeling for real
Baby I paint the sky blue
My greatest creation was you”
2012 – “Congratulations”
During this era, I did everything. What it was and always has been: I didn’t have the money to export the responsibilities and also I’m a complete creative person who creates through different avenues. So armed with my Canon T3i, I enlisted my peer/counterpart/the guy that I followed into music – Dat Boi Verse to film my first video that I went and edited to look like an amateur, choppy video on purpose to get the intimacy of it captured. Everybody seems to love that video (I love it too, but with a million criticisms of myself, as usual).
2013 – “Flight 3 (Flight Anniversary)”
2013…was cool, looking back on it. I dropped the 10 The Hard Way mixtape in February 2014, which was supposed to be a tape with me and Ice Holloway but turned out to be solo. I followed that up with “Flight 3 (Flight Anniversary)” on March 22, 2013. I named it like this because after “Congratulations”, I wanted to make a song for every year on this date. I made the beat myself as 10 The Hard Way was the last jacked beats tape I would drop for a while as I worked on my Married 2 The Game album.
2014 – Flight IV (EP album)
So skipping to 2014, I had a super song planned for Flight IV (March 22, 2014). It was 2 songs in one – “Rev Up” and “Everything Flight”, self-produced by me again. Now, I recorded these songs but wasn’t happy with the quality so I planned to redo them WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, there was the usual clashing with the team going on. **Real shit**, that energy killed my energy for the song. I put them on the shelf and planned them for a summer release. So instead of a super song, I prepared an EP, spawning my single “Throne”, that I released 2 months later in May.
That was May 2014. This is May 2017.
That was the last MFMG Anniversary music I dropped but not the last planned. 2015’s was supposed to be Numbers Game, which would’ve been a label project with all artists having solos and posse cuts. The name was a take on it being a numbers game with all of the artists together coming together to make this thing a success. The studio was booked, beats were being checked out, social media was ready – everything. This was going to give everybody music, a chance to create without worrying about how and to get us started on promoting us – together…
…I released my Numbers Game mixtape on January 1, 2016, and the subsequent shorter EP version months later on all streaming services. 2015’s would-be Flight Anniversary song Nobody, Just Us was including on there, closing out the EP and mixtape versions. There was no 2016 Anniversary content – 2016 was trash. When the smoke cleared, there was nobody left. The number from Numbers Game was now one.
2015 – “Nobody, Just Us” ***
I had a slight idea on doing something for March 22, 2017 but skipped it. I was too busy rebuilding my greatest creation to properly give it focus. But on March 22, 2018, I’ll make up for my mistakes.
“Fuck it, why fight it? I wasn’t made for admiration/ Me saying shit like that gets you further agitated” is a line that lives in the middle of “Champagne” but is an over-arching theme over a course of Ty’Ron projects. They’re my responses to contentious relationships with certain women at different times. I made none of them linear in the verses so that it’s never at one person or even my situation sometimes. All are true but written with my artistic liberty. I know that it paints a certain picture that this type of song has been more prevalent music so far but really, they started out lighthearted with “Champagne” and that took on a life of itself. I PROMISE, it gets better – I’m making it up to you, ladies!
Starting out with an infamous Mike Tyson interview to open, in which Tyson says “I usually don’t do interviews with women unless I fornicate with them. So you shouldn’t talk, unless…you know…”, Champagne was designed to capture the recklessness of Mike Tyson in keeping with the theme of Stallion II: Iron Mic – relating my sophomore mixtape year with that of a young Tyson trying to navigate the top of the boxing world. It was originally going to be called “Pink Champagne” and have a totally different angle but then *things happened*. I weaved through a lot of true situations tied together over Jay Z’s Girls, Girls, Girls beat and ended up with *what I thought* was a funny song about dismissing a frustrating chick with the asshole move of telling her to “drink champagne instead of talking to me”. It wasn’t. It became a favorite among my male Flight members and fans.
“Think they number 1 – you ain’t number 1, at best, you number 5. Behind the money, behind the fame, behind the dreams, behind wifey, behind the job. Goddamn, you might be number 15! Play that 15 to ya goddamn strongest point, shit why you wanna be number 1. Life hard on the moon, bitch.”
That’s all I heard.
And I fell for it…because I listen to the people…
IT’S A COLD GAME
While working on the self-made Married 2 The Game album, I had a sample that I loved to death! I listened to it over and over until it became quite clear to me what it would end up being – the sequel to Champagne. The interlude before the song was a play on words – with the original context being the man packing and leaving with me wanted it to be taken as conversation during sex (listen to it with that in mind now). The actual song is about how cold the actual game is when you’re dealing with the opposite sex, only from my perspective. I really feel like art is best when rooted in truth and I use music to get my truths out. …My truths need some work. I love all of my songs – all of them – but this one, is one of my favorites. I had/have high hopes for people when they hear it. The wordplay, the beat with its sonic changes, the sample meshing with the “frienenemy” theme of it – I love it.
“Tell me that you love me but I doubt that that’s the truth/ I’m the boss and you don’t have to see the license for the proof/
I’m just giving you the business, ironic/ Reagan Era baby with the physical, trickle down economics”
Cold Game Interlude:
By the way, the last line of the 3rd verse is flipped from Beanie Sigel, not me! Shout out to Beans (Jay Z’s “Stick 2 The Script”) – don’t pin that completely on me!
There’s a lot of tie-ins with my music and I thought it was appropriate to start this kind of feature out with the most obvious one. Champagne began as a track that entertained me but I didn’t take too serious and kinda morphed into something that’s low-key a staple after Cold Game. I do want to be careful about how I come off if I do continue but it’s still all in the name of entertainment. As long as I make sure I show my love for women in my music, I think we’ll be okay, right?
Let’s toast to that.