Jay Z Disses Drake in Art-Collecting Tête-à-Tête

James Turrell, “Afrum I (White)” (1967) (image by Michael Lowell, via Flickr)

Yesterday saw the release of a single from Jay Electronica, the second this month from the elusive London-based rapper. This latest song, a remix of a track originally by Drake and Soulja Boy, features Jay with alphabetic ally Jay Z, to whose Roc Nation label he is signed. Though the younger artist uses the song to drop some of his heavily traveled Five Percenter religious material, Jay Z deploys his verses to settle a more earthly score: a response to a comment Drake made about his Picasso proclivities in a Rolling Stone profile last month. In that interview, Drake sagely put down “trendy art shout-outs” in rap: “It’s like Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references! I would love to collect at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.”

Hence this rejoinder from Jay Z, which can be heard at the two-minute mark in the Soundcloud version below:

Sorry Mr. Drizzy for so much art talk
Silly me rappin’ ’bout shit that I really bought
Why these rappers rap about guns they ain’t shot?
And a bunch of other silly shit that they ain’t got.

A classic Eggersonian smarming, as laid forth in Tom Scocca’s recent treatiseDo not dismiss a book until you have written one, do not dismiss art talk until you have art, etc. Though in our estimation Drake’s original assessment is only bolstered by such contrived puffery, Jay Z’s insinuations may also prove inapplicable — in that same Rolling Stone piece, Drake mentioned that not only did he “fuck with Turrell” (“a big influence on the visuals for my last tour”), but a foray into collecting was imminent:

Inside the next installation, a LACMA guide named Jason says something like, “If you look long enough, you’ll notice that your sense of depth begins to . . . ,” but Drake is busy having his assistant snap pictures of him. In one shot, Drake throws up his arms in a crucifix pose; he gazes off morosely in another. When he’s done, we make our way through the rest of the retrospective. Museumgoers stop and gawk as Drake drifts past. One security guard calls out, “I love your shit!”

“How much would it be to get a ‘Perceptual Cell’ for your house?” Drake asks Jason. “Twenty million?”

“Wow, I don’t know,” Jason says. “Turrell does do residential commissions, though.”

“I’m gonna find out,” Drake says.

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