Perhaps with all of this going on with the Grammys, this slipped under the news radar: Jay Z and Beyonce aka “Bey” are officially leaving New York City. Impossible to believe? Yes, almost: Jay Z wrote the ultimate modern tribute to New York City and its spirit with “Empire State of Mind” — it’s up there with Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” as assured artistic expressions of essential New York in its neurotic pathos, grandiosity, and as a place of self-invention. It’s likely Jay Z and Bey are hitting the road to L.A., for a variety of reasons: NYC is no longer for the music industry (sadly, gentrification has priced out emerging talent in all directions), record labels are happily consolidating into music monopolies in L.A., and New York is no longer an incubator of material for Jay Z’s kitsch (kitsch: in the Susan Sontag sense) art. As this writer notes, you can’t draw from that reservoir where Marcy Houses are forever. Stuff gets old — fast! Anyhow, Jay Z is the grand old man of rap; he’s 45.
Probably something else is going on, too: Jay Z is officially a bore. New York City is a 24-hour zone of lights and action; it oozes life and drama. Simply put, it’s the place where s$*t is happening all the time. As the New York Post‘s Kyle Smith’s writes: “But there’s no insulating yourself from the life of the city. It’s omnipresent and unavoidable. It’s in your hair and clothes. It’s in your mitochondria. It wakes you up with a noogie. It’s the insult comic of cities.” To trade New York City for Hollywood shows that Jay Z’s imagination has settled for quiet domesticity and has relegated that bravado and love of spontaneity to a misty past. But never fear: much of Jay Z will be hood forever.