And when a nigga go as the old adage go
You die rich and you die disgraced,
Nickels and Dimes by Jay Z

Andrew Carnegie was fond of saying:

“The man who dies rich, dies disgraced”.

Carnegie made a fortune (founding U.S. Steel), then gave much of it away. Millions of dollars went to support education, a pension plan for teachers, and the cause of world peace (he was one of the founders of the American Anti-Imperialist League). Most famous as a benefactor of libraries, he funded nearly three thousand around the world. He preached the obligation of the wealthy to return their money to the societies where they made it.

Andrew Carnegie had a net worth in non-inflation adjusted dollars similar to Jay-Z — $492 million. However if we allow for inflation, Carnegie was one of the top five richest humans to ever live with a net worth in excess of $300 billion dollars.

(Carnegie’s mansion in New York)

While donating large sums to charity, Carnegie remained ruthless in the business world with some accusing him of failing to pay his many workers a living wage.

Carnegie wrote, ‘besides, it provides a refuge from self-questioning'
This returns to one of the theme’s of this song. If you are giving, are you doing it for the people you are giving to or for yourself?

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It's my time now
Hublot homie,
Nickels and Dimes by Jay Z

Even on a song about charity, Jay-Z makes sure to save a plug for one of his sponsors because the more you’ve got, the more you’ve got to give.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkNQNiotp3I

So Hova is still finding time to bring clean water to everybody.

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Every thing within reason
Can't see it taking food out my little monster's mouth
That'll drive me gaga
Nickels and Dimes by Jay Z

The pun is a reference to singer Lady Gaga who is known for calling her fans little monsters and has this tattooed on the arm that holds her mic.

The little monster is Blue Ivy, saying that taking anything from her will drive Jay crazy and cause him to “run up in ya momma house.”

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October 8th, 2013

Also since this song is about charity. Jay is giving us his gift. His music. So to reference Gaga is to say that anyone trying to stop him from rapping and making music for us, is taking food (for thought) out of his fans mouths as well as his means of feeding his family.

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You know a nigga trill as Michael Jackson socks F.U.T.W by Jay Z

Michael Jackson was putting crystals on his socks way before the era of Bling.

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Standing on the top hold my penis
America tried to emasculate the greats
F.U.T.W by Jay Z

Jay-Z stands defiant as a proud black man.

America through the FBI tried (and many would argue succeeded) in destroying any popular black leaders calling for radical change.

J Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, issued this directive in 1967:
“The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavour is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralise the activities of black-nationalist, hate-type organisations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters.”

He stated in a further directive:
“Prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a ‘messiah’… . Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, and [Nation of Islam leader] Elijah Muhammed [sic] all aspire to this position … . King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed ‘obedience’ to ‘white, liberal doctrines’ (nonviolence).”

In today’s money the United States government spent over half a billion dollars destabilising or destroying black, indigenous and left-wing movements in America, and their potential future leadership.

In addition, there was also a recent popular article on Hacker News. The FBI supposedly wrote a letter to Martin Luther King telling him to commit suicide, by allegedly leveraging a sex audio tape that was taken without a warrant.

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August 11th, 2013

While the facts presented about Hoover and the US government are valid and is good background knowledge, it feels like something is missing. Jay Z wasnt only referencing what America has done to squash any powerful black leaders of social movements fighting for social and economic equality, he is also talking about present day people of color who know they can only say so much in the media. There are unwritten rules you have to play by while black if you choose to remain employed by the mainstream media machine, corporations, etc. America has always feared the black united economic power, much of it stems from the horrible dehumanizing treatment blacks have historically endured by whites. So black unity and any notion of courage and bravado shakes many white peoples nerves…“they try to dim your lights, tell you be humble”

Ciano's photo

2,102

July 21st, 2013

Many people when saying someone has been emasculated is like saying their balls have been taken from them (like when a wife emasculates a husband). He says he’s standing on the top holding his penis, followed by how America always tried to emasculate the greats. Kind of dry humor in suggesting he’s holding his penis at the top so he won’t be emasculated.

July 23rd, 2013

@Ciano I think this ‘tate is good as-is but will leave the comment up for people to read.

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You front row everywhere, you in the H.O.V.'s
Jordan 1's and dungarees
And that's just the half of my warpath
F.U.T.W by Jay Z

While Biggie goes on the warpath by shooting holes in people, Jay-Z does it in the business world by being front row at basketball games.

Everyone knows Jay-Z’s sneaker game is on point, from Banneds to Black Toes and Black and Royals, he’s even been scolded by PETA for his custom kicks made from exotic animal skins.

He’s also referring to HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes. When you’re driving on certain highways, at certain times, and you have passengers, you’re allowed to get in the HOV and bypass cars with just a driver.

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jerl54
September 30th, 2013

The dungaree and warpath references are from a NOTORIOUS B.I.G. song “Long Kiss Goodnight”… “Blood floods your dungarees. And that’s just a half of my warpath”

Anonymous
August 23rd, 2013

Your missing his contrast. He’s taking an iconic Knicks fan like Spike since he is well known for being front row at the Knicks games and comparing himself to him and also one upping spike by implying that he’s always front row whether at the Grammy’s, VMA’s and even at the Basketball games. He’s referring to that as the HOVS claiming if your front row your in the HOVS playing on words since he is HOV…. Has nothing to do with a driver and the freeway/highway lol……

October 18th, 2013

jerl54 is correct. I would split this break down to explain that line further.

Oxford, i swear
October 17th, 2013

it dont matter what yall say.. to me it sound like he mean one thing.. “You Aint F***n Wit Me”

September 13th, 2013

Anonymous is right, but he missed one thing. The HOV thing refers to his name, and that he always has at least one other person with him in the front rows.

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Sipping D'USSE boy this ain't your daddy yak
He in a Cadillac; me? I'm in the Maybach
F.U.T.W by Jay Z

Above is a famous advertising meme used to suggest a product, or in this case a product category — cognac, has evolved beyond its original form.

The triumvirate of cognac brands are Hennessy, Courvoisier and Rémy Martin. Jay-Z’s taken the D'Usse endorsement money and is trying to convince the listener to abandon the “old” brands and get with the new.

While Maybach may rhyme with with yak, choosing a car brand which is no longer in production due to lack of demand may not be the best metaphor to pick.

Then again it is hard to find words that rhyme with Mulsanne:

“Yak” is an old term from the moonshine/prohibition era for alcohol. Hov is giving the listener some of the imagery and tastes of early America as contrasted with modern day America, while at the same time in typical Hov fashion, throws jabs at his detractors.

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December 9th, 2013

Jay could be saying he is self made. He is not flexing on daddy’s stuff. He made it himself and even better than daddy probably would be able to produce, i.e. a Maybach, not just a Cadillac

Meach
August 26th, 2013

This has nothing to do with what eras or times these things come from.. Jay is saying that he’s drinking D'Usse, which is more exclusive then what your dad might be drinking. D'Usse I’m guessing costs more too.

Just like with the Maybach and the Cadillac. Your dad could much easier find and afford a Cadillac than a Maybach.

The whole point is not to say he’s doing newer things, it’s to say he’s doing bigger things.

EJJ
August 23rd, 2013

You can also interpret this line by his enunciation, sounds like “He INTO Cadillac me I’m INTO Maybach” 1.)Literally — driving different cars from different eras. Continues comparing different tastes from previous line. Compares different music eras also — the fictional Cadillac records(remember the movie, Beyoncé was in) vs. Maybach music(May-back).

Timothy
August 3rd, 2013

The Cadillac reference is in regards to the level of luxury that our fathers were chasing. In the 80’s and earlier, the Cadillac was a symbol of class and elegance. If your dad had one, he was doing well in whatever field he was making money in. Even till this day, Cadillac holds the same status in many communities.

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I make my roof get ghost, Crown by Jay Z (Ft. Travis Scott)

Although Rolls-Royce don’t current make a convertible version of the Ghost, they do make a convertible Phantom.

With Jay-Z’s money he could make the roof disappear on any model of car if he so chose.

Speaking of which, it’s possible that “roof” is also a play on words. Custom cars made by Ruf Automobile GmbH, starting with a Porsche chassis.

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You already know what I could do with the coke
Dropped it in the water, made it disappear
I made it reappear,
Crown by Jay Z (Ft. Travis Scott)

Again, going with the miracle theme.

Jay-Z still remembers how to cook in the kitchen.

Dissolve the mixture into water

Later when the crack is solidifying it will reappear

Look ma, I just made crack rocks

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Champagne on my breath, yes Picasso Baby by Jay Z 1

Above is a photo of Hova and Diddy (two of the kings of hip hop alcoholic beverage endorsement) drinking champagne out of totally inappropriate glasses.

Jay-Z drinking from a champagne flute. That’s much better.

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