Ben Grenrock’s favorite Scorcese flick is The Color of Money.
No one can predict how different this new year will be from its much-maligned predecessor. But whether 2018 proves a humanistic renaissance or an even deeper decent into madness, there’s one thing that will almost certainly stay consistent between the past year and this one. In 2017, a report published by Swiss multinational holding company Credit Suisse confirmed something that most of us already knew: the richest one-percent of Homo sapiens hold a staggering 50% of the globe’s wealth, and by proxy hold that other 99% of the human race as unwitting economic hostages in a green death grip.
Barring some sort of global catastrophe, it’s hard to imagine an embrace as systemically fortified as that one loosening much over the next twelve months. But I’m a pessimist. Maybe a small meteor will strike and the survivors will enjoy some balancing of the books of the social classes. It’s a new year, anything’s possible.
While you anxiously await such a watershed moment of financial equality and exo-planetary impact, why not listen to Najii Person’s new single “Money,” the video for which dropped on the first of the year? Najii, a versatile and energetic rapper/producer out of St. Louis, rattles off a list of the various languages in which money—the true omniglot—talks. There’s high money and low money, dope money and hope money, “she-ain’t-never-leave money,” “don’t-give-me-no-joke money,” and, lest we forget, “white-kids-buying-supreme-with-their-folks money.”
More than just a barrage of multi-hyphenates in a symmetrical rhyme scheme, “Money” probes deeper into the well-trodden topic with bursts of apical insight. “You make money, but couldn’t create money,” Najii spits in a breathy drawl somewhere on the spectrum between Isaiah Rashad and a sedated Kendrick, with a pinch of Andre 3000’s inflection thrown in for Southern zest.
Unlike on an earlier release, the explosive “Not Around,” in which Najii displays his mastery of novel syllable arrangement—going fully awake (and maybe even caffeinated) Kendrick—“Money” finds his delivery tightly corralled and gelling evenly with polished production, the bars orbiting their chosen subject in neat little loops. Producer of both beats, Najii’s work on “Money”’s sonic palate is similarly streamlined when compared to “Not Around.” It’s a sleek arrangement, one that incorporates the expressive bass of past efforts while showing off the emergent rapper’s range of styles.
The focus of both production and lyrics affords Najii the space to rap about money comprehensively. He pecks at this monolithic construct from all angles—at times observational, at others biographical—as he labors to unravel the relationship between the zeros in one’s bank account and that person’s feelings of accomplishment or lack thereof. It is, of course, impossible to know what 2018 will bring regarding people’s relationship with money, or with anything else. But if more people make it their New Years resolution to think about world issues as extensively as Najii Person does on “Money,”—well, that’d at least be good a start.