Boat dock in front of Hermes picking cotton
Hermes was an Olympian God in Greek mythology.
Among his many specialties, (including poetry) Hermes was a God of transitions and boundaries.
As discussed by Jay himself, this song explores the transition of a passageway for slave transport into a bed rest of yachting—luxury and excess.
Hermès is also a prominent French quality goods manufacturer known for their luxury items in perfume, clothing, and home decor. Jay-Z is in the Hermes store picking out clothes (cotton), very expensive clothes at that, while also alluding to the African American slaves who used to work on the cotton fields.
Jay-Z uses this “boat” metaphor to refer to his Maybach being parked outside of the Hermes store while he’s shopping for clothes. This is also referenced later in the song: “The black Maybach, I’m back inside the boat.”
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