The Youth of America, According to a Middle Aged Rapper Named Jay, As Told By His Slighly More Youthful Friend Mr. Hudson: "Forever Young," the Video
The really likeable thing about what remains an underrated (though, uh, not that underrated) Blueprint 3 was the spectacle of Jay-Z thinking pretty seriously about what it meant to be an enormously successful and pretty definitively middle-aged rapper. He's the first and only to do it, with apologies to whatever Rakim album came out this year, or even OB4CL2--records that did not begin to take the whole ageing-in-rap dilemma seriously as a subject, though they may have been made by older men.
But Jay's album-closing Alphaville-sampling "Forever Young" is pretty hard to defend: slot this move along with the rapper's sudden love for Grizzly Bear and indie rock in the annals of casting desperately around for something that might make him seem a bit more in touch and, well, young. The video treatment, with its hagiographic treatment of skateboarding and children playing sports, doesn't exactly help--it's as if this video was a documentary Jay had made on the subject of kids these days, with Mr. Hudson playing the part of the Morgan Freeman-like benevolent narrator. Prom rap is not the look, Shawn. Kids actually want to hang out with you! Maybe just let them. You might learn something.