Two great tastes that taste great together
If you remember anything about rap back in the late 90's, it was all about gloss, bling, and ridiculous excess. It was the heyday of Puff Daddy and he churned out hit after hit based on old 80's pop tunes. The record industry was as strong as it has ever been (and will ever be, in my opinion), there was lots of money to be made, and by God, the hip hop artists of the era were celebrating it.
"I Just Want to Love You" is a pretty good example of the type of music and lyrics we were getting at the time. The Neptunes were the hot producers at the moment (and they were pretty good back then), and Pharrel Williams has the best part of the song - the falsetto chorus that calls back old-school funk songs and is also a lyrical shoutout to someone who hadn't been heard form in years at the time - Rick James
Jay Z, in a typical act of rap artist modesty, calls himself "The greatest rapper alive". I'm not willing to go that far (give me Rakim, Q-Tip, or Chuck D), but the dude's good. I think with him, it's more a "sum of the parts" situation. I can't put my finger on any one thing that makes him stand out, but he does lots of little things really well. I think the best thing about his rapping is his phrasing. He doesn't strictly go line to line, verse to verse in the same rhythm. He mixes his delivery up really well which keeps any of his songs from getting monotonous and keeps you listening and interested. For an example of what I'm getting at here, check the "It's - about -to- go-down" delivery about a minute into the song. All the hallmarks of "bling" music are there - Cristal champagne, Prada, Gucci, Remi Martin, "cheddar", weed, ecstasy, Belvedere, and the like. Hell, even Atlanta's infamous Cheetah is name checked.
Lyrically in this song, and I know you may not believe this, but Jay Z seems to have many, many women after him. He warns these ladies that they must be sexualy proficient to spend time with him, but be warned! Although he has lots and lots (and lots) of money, he's NOT willing to spend it on you.
I kid with this, obviously it's not a weighty message of social commentary like "Fight the Power", but I've always felt it's unfair to hold rap songs to standards like that. Shit, 90% of rock music is about chasing tail and getting fucked up, but no one is calling out Van Halen for not having an uplifting, responsible message. Plus, you have to have chuckle at a couplet like this :
Yeah, save the narrative you savin it for marriage
Let's keep it real ma you savin it for cabbage
Embedding is forbidden! So, click here if you'd like to watch the video. It's a party!