Why Work So Hard Just To Stay The Same?


I like watching old interviews of some of my heroes just to glean random nuggets of inspiration or knowledge from time to time. One of my all-time favorite interviews is a promo video that Jay Z did for his “book”, Decoded, back when Hov was on his intellectual tip (see wearing glasses). See the quick clip below:

Did you look at it? No. That’s fine, let me talk to ya. Basically, Hov is breaking down lyrics to a song called, Most Kingz, a song inspired by a Basquiat painting. While discussing the lyrics, he talked about the love/hate relationship that people have with success.

Everybody took shots, hit my body up, I’m tired
Build me up to break me down to build me up again
They like “Hov’, we need you back so we can kill your ass again

We do this all the time with our favorite celebrities, friends, and idols. We want our musicians to put out music, listen to it for a few bops, complain or chastise them, and when they take a break, we call them back. We miss them! Think about how often we do this to those in our own circle.

Then, he discusses one of my favorite lines from the song:

Everybody look at you strange, say you changed
Like you work that hard to stay the same, uhh

He notes how people expect you to move forward in your life, but they get mad because you’re not the same person anymore. I felt this line on a level back then and I still feel it now. You get the strange look when you go back to your old friends or family and they’re wondering why you’re choosing to eat kale instead of the collard greens and neckbones they made. YOU get the strange look because you’re using words that they don’t understand. Hell, the insults they used to hurl at you back in the days don’t eem stick no more and they’re perplexed because they’re not getting the same reaction as they used to 20 years ago.  Many of us are working hard to experience more life, provide for our families, and smile while trying to balance it all. There is no time to talk about running the streets “like we did back in the day”, when I’m too busy trying to make sure my household is together. I remember when I had a family member get mad at me because I didn’t accept their friend request many years ago and threatened to fight me. I told them to “catch a flight”. I’m just not with the foolishness anymore.

I’ve been called “bougie”, “uppity”, and more because I don’t like to partake in things that used to bring me so much joy back then. Going to parties and getting sloppy drunk isn’t cool anymore to me. Spending a majority of the time “in the old days” isn’t fun to me now. I don’t need to hear the next story about how cousin Ray Ray (everybody has a cousin Ray Ray) used to run the streets back in the day and made sure that everyone knew this/that family. Change is a constant in life and you can’t avoid it. We have to give people the opportunity to grow and not keep them confined to the box that WE put them in.

During my time back home, I realized that I don’t talk to many people anymore because we’re not on the same energy now compared to when we were younger, but thats okay. I still wish them all the positive vibes in the world because its no love lost on my end. I just pray and hope that the peeps who I no longer talk to find peace in their life that bring joy and happiness. At my core, I will always stay true to my values, however, they might look a bit different as I get older. I’ve worked too hard to regress in life and I be damned if I’m going to let someone think otherwise. It’s okay to grow-up.

One thought on “Why Work So Hard Just To Stay The Same?

  1. So true. Also summed up in On To The Next One. I’m paraphrasing but: “Hov on that new sh*t, y’all like how come? Y’all want my old sh*t? Buy my old albums.”
    We have to keep growing. We’re playing chess; not checkers.


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