Jay-Z Wants You To Find Your Freedom
“Lock my body
Can’t trap my mind…” — Jay-Z “Can I Live”
It’s me, Joel Leon and I’m back at it — another week, another edition of “What Would Hov Do?” in 2021! For those not in the now, #WWHD is the Medium column where each and every week I tackle some of life’s biggest hurdles and issues, all with the help of Jay-Z lyrics.
If there’s a topic you’d want to see tackled with a little help from Jay-Z, feel free to drop your question or issue here and me and the god emcee will help you get through it.
With all of the events that transpired at the capitol this week, I think this week is about hitting the pause button and reflecting for a moment on a very important topic: liberation. And not the kind of liberation that asks of a white supremacist system to be less white supremacy, but the kind of liberation that frees us from the bondage of the physical and leads us to a freedom more tangible: the freedom of spirit and mind.
This Jay-Z “Can I Live” lyric, pulled from Reasonable Doubt, is not only a nod to the brothers and sisters trapped inside the prison industrial system, but also to those outside those walls living in the prison of our imaginations, or rather the lack of them. Our freedom will not come from the hands of our oppressors; not from a country created on the backs of slaves and indigenous people; not from greedy, power hungry politicians or capitalist practices.
Our freedom will come for and by the people and the liberation will be about surrendering to love, to faith, to hope, to forgiveness, grace, and our ability to reimagine what our freedom can look like outside of a system not meant for our survival.
What Hov is saying is impactful in many ways, but it really comes back to the idea that our physical shell is only a vessel (another thought Jay leans into for one of the lyrics on “Beach Chair” off of the Kingdom Come LP) and our minds are what will really lead us to true freedom; a freedom that is not contingent on external stimuli or circumstances being ideal.
Our freedom gets to come from within, using our hearts and minds, or as some Buddhist practitioners refer to as the heartmind, as a compass. So that, even in the wake of domestic terrorists attacks that once again prove the drastic disparities between being white and Black in America and around the world, we don’t have to succumb to the rhetoric, to the painful reminders of the work needed to overcome racism, or even just being able to make it through a work week without being triggered or having to respond to a perceived slight or micro-aggression.
Our liberation is bigger than the limitations of a man made democracy. Our liberation exists beyond what we can see. It’s bigger than what’s in front of our eyes. We don’t have to be trapped by what surrounds us.
Hov did that.