All for Plato, screech
I’m out here balling, I know y'all hear my sneaks

from Kanye West (Ft. Frank Ocean & Jay Z) – No Church in the Wild Lyrics on Rap Genius


Plato was Socrates' prime student, and essentially all we know of Socrates is solely represented by Plato’s writing. Socrates was an infamous gadfly: one who attempts to gain the attention of society, no matter how annoying the controversial screech is.

Jay has in the past called himself Plato to Biggie’s Socrates — it’s an idea he mentioned at the NYPL event supporting Decoded, but first came to him while visiting a Princeton seminar with Cornel West Here’s brother West:

Jay-Z did come to class as a result of that. He came to my class. And that was a moment: with Toni Morrison, [and] Phylicia Rashad was there, and it was me and [Professor] Eddie Glaude teaching. … [Jay-Z] was very quiet for the most part; he talked about how he had never, ever been … in a college seminar and it was a brand new experience for him and he enjoyed it; he loved the dialogue. I had been talking about Plato and Socrates and how he said I am going to preserve the memory of my teacher for as long as I live, and I am in deep mourning for Socrates who died unfairly, and I will make sure that the world never forgets that there was once a man named Socrates. And that’s when Jay-Z said: I am Plato to Biggie’s Socrates. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Jay-Z is attempting to do just this. Balling is an analogy to the action of him competing with society via his lyrics/lifestyle; hearing his sneaks is him saying that he has in fact had a legitimate effect on our society’s status quo, his screech.

In what is likely a coincidence, M.A. Screech is a translator who has worked on well-known editions of Michel de Montaigne’s essays about Plato

Also, less academically hearing his sneaks could be a reference that when you play basketball, you can hear the players' sneakers screech against the (wooden) floor.

This line is also similar to his line in So Ambitious off of his last album, The Blueprint 3,

I’m ballin' outta control, can you hear my sneakers"

J.Cole or Ye would be Aristotle in this example. Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation would be The Academy. (Dreamville/G.O.O.D. would then be the Lyceum).

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