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Customer Review

67 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a must have..., November 25, 2010
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This review is from: Decoded (Hardcover)
This book is definitely one for your collection of good books based on hip-hop. I grew up in the Bronx during the 70's and 80's and a lot of the "rap" traditions and "crack" traditions he writes about are valid and true. Once you read through the book you will learn a few things. My favorite new fact was how Memphis Bleek was originally not going to do Coming Of Age. I won't spoil it for you.

While the book is great to read, it's also great to look at. The pages are thick. There are pictures on almost every page which relate to that particular topic. The art direction, overseen by Jay-Z, looks really good. Honestly, they should make this book a coffee-table edition.

Now, the reason I did not give this book a five is for two reasons.

1. I wanted more. I have a few songs and lyrics from him that I would have like to have seen addressed.

Example: "...the fire I spit burn down Happy Land / Social Club, we unapproachable thugs..."

Growing up in the Bronx, I knew what that line meant, but many people don't.

"Happy Land Social Club was an unlicensed social club in the Bronx. On March 25th 1990, 87 people were killed in an fire set by Julio Gonzalez."
- Wikipedia

That line isn't deep but it made me stop and say "Wow! I forgot about when Happy Land got set on fire."

2. It didn't address one of my 9 year discussion over a line Jay-Z says in You Don't Know (Blueprint).

"I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, I'll sell water to a well/whale."

Either word works, but I'd like to know the true word. Did he intend to confuse us with a clever play on words?

Nevertheless, the book is great. The people who gave the book 1 star ratings didn't read the book, as they say in their reviews, so please rate those posts as unhelpful. However, If you actually read the book, and still give it one star, then that's justified.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 25, 2010, 10:50:53 AM PST
Tori says:

Posted on Nov 25, 2010, 3:58:07 PM PST
Chad von Nau says:

Posted on Nov 27, 2010, 3:16:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2010, 3:23:21 AM PST
Real217 says:
No offense bro, and i dont mean to be condescending honestly, but 9 years and you're just discovering the meaning of that line? i was in West Africa when that album came out,(you dont want to know wat it means to get internet connection) me and my homies didnt have to 'decipher' it, it was that simple, the previous bars should have given you a clue, rap is like poetry, or the Bible, you need the whole story to understand some lines sometimes. winter makes ice, hell makes fire, a well/cistern makes water, besides he's talking about selling something to the unlikeliest of buyers.(he may well have said, i'll sell beer to heineken) the Social club line? thats the line that'll get anybody googling, apparently its something more personal.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2010, 9:01:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2010, 11:26:56 AM PST
I wrote, " 9 year discussion." It didn't take me nine years to discover the meaning. IMO, it's just an interesting conversation and it's great that you and your boys were in Africa, surrounded by wells and immediately knew what it was. However, because well and whale sound similar, the line could go either way. To sell water to a whale would be pretty difficult considering that he's surrounded by water. It's selling someone something they already have. Cassidy said something similar about selling salt to a snail.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2010, 6:49:29 AM PST
Real217 says:
ok, my bad about the 9 year thing. i've been in the States for three years so far, and i'm just going to go out on a limb here and pretend that the "surrounded by wells" comment is not a diss to my heritage but you making a point.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010, 11:19:45 PM PST
A. McMillan says:
It could definitely go both ways. Not sure why you got people jumping down your throat, S. Jay-Z's always been able to craft those lines with double (sometimes triple... the "run it back/straight with the rock" line on Dirt Off Your Shoulder comes to mind) meanings, and the well/whale one is a perfect example.

Really liked your review, too. Thanks.

Posted on Dec 13, 2010, 10:10:17 AM PST
Oluseyi says:
Well. The line structure is commodity :: originating-environment. Go to hell, you'll find fire everywhere, so selling it there is a spectacular act of hustling. In the dead of winter you'll find ice everywhere, so the same applies. Wells contain water... You can finish the rest. It's a pretty straightforward quartet.

Nice review.

Posted on Jul 26, 2011, 12:59:25 PM PDT
D. Jones says:
It's BOTH...this is Jay-z's M.O. the use of the double entendre...Anyone arguing that it's either or doesn't know or really listen to Jigga. He does this all the time.
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