If you escaped what I've escaped, you'd be in Paris getting fucked up too
Basically, he’s been through so much shit in the past that he should be dead, but now that he’s fought his way out, he deserves to enjoy life to the fullest.
Paris is a great town for binge drinking (if you’re into wine…)
In addition to this explanation by Jay-Z, this line can also be related to the theme of the song, “Niggas in Paris”. Mentioned in the sidebar, many African-American artists and musicians,during the early Nineteenth Century, gained much fame in France, leading many of them to settle permanently in France.
One reason why it was so difficult for African American artists and musicians to reach the same amount of popularity was due to the racial tension, discrimination and segregation laws present at the time in the United States.
African Americans were exotic others in France. It was that distance that provided an illusion of racial tolerance. Yes the French treated talented African American artists with respect. Scatter a few poor black neighborhoods in France and that dynamic would have changed. The whole idea of French racial enlightenment is a tiresome lie.
Josephine Baker became the most successful American entertainer working in France. But she recalls the life that she left behind in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1920s:
I never forget my people screaming, pushing to get to the bridge, a friend of my father’s face shot off, a pregnant woman cut open. I see them running to get to the bridge. I have been running ever since
Like Jay-Z and his hardships in his past, “if you escaped what” Baker “escaped, you’d be in Paris getting fucked up too”.
Source for Josephine Baker quote:
Stovall, Tyler Edward. Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light. New York: Mariner Books, 1998.
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