A Line-by-Line Breakdown of Jay-Z's Verse on Meek Mill's Song 'What's Free?'

Illustration for article titled A Line-by-Line Breakdown of Jay-Z's Verse on Meek Mill's Song 'What's Free?'
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Meek Mill’s latest album, Championships, dropped today. While I’m not the biggest fan of the Philadelphia yellsmith, I can acknowledge that because of everything that’s transpired in the past, say 18 months of his life, this album release is an event. From a very public feud with Drake (they’re cool now; Drake’s even featured on the album), a public breakup with Nicki Minaj (they’re not cool now it seems; plus he has a feature with Cardi B, which has to annoy Nicki), to his very public feud with the criminal justice system that got tons of folks on board with his case to protest his incarceration, this album potentially serves as a “moment” for Meek. I listened to the album. On it, he makes various mentions of his trials (no pun intended) and tribulations. But largely, it’s Just Another Meek Mill Album.


The thing that stood out most was the song, “What’s Free,” featuring Rick Ross (and his insanely unnecessary use of the f-word gay slur) and Jay-Z. I imagine this is the song that is going to stand out to most hip-hop heads because of Jay’s inclusion. To level up the interest (and continue the haterade parade of Jay as Biggie’s Biggest Dickrider discussion), the rappers spit over a rehash of the Biggie classic “What’s Beef?” from his Life After Death album. It’s like 1997 meets 2018 all over again!

I pretty much couldn’t care less about Rick Ross’ verse or Meek’s for that matter, even after repeated listens. I’m waiting for Jay each time. And he doesn’t disappoint. In fact, let’s just go line-by-line, mmkay? Jay might not be in 2003 form, but 2018 form is pretty fucking awesome. Let’s go! Jay’s lyrics are bold and italics; my comments are in regular degular.

In the land of the free, where the blacks enslaved

I see what you did there, Jay. Land built on freedom that still enslaves black folks. I believe we call that irony. This is America.

Three-fifths of a man, I believe’s the phrase

That’s it. You right. A bunch of white men agreed to that shit and called it the Three-Fifths Compromise. The 14th Amendment repealed that shit in 1868. Somebody needs to remind Trump of this.


I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free (Yeah)

I’m 100 percent of my AmEx and I owe. He winning.

100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B (Uh)

I’m 100 percent of my mortgage and, well, I’ve definitely seen appreciation. It’s also definitely not worth half a bil, much less half a mil. He’s just stuntin’ right now.


Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece

More stunting.

Hunnid percent of Tidal to bust it up with my Gs, uh

Not for nothing, but I rarely use Tidal. In fact, true story, I only ever used it for Beyoncé’s Lemonade album. And yet, every.single.month they stick me for $9.99. Again, they are winning.


Since most of my niggas won’t ever work together

We need more unity is what I think he means here...

You run a check up but they never give you leverage

...because then we could actually build wealth and shit.

No red hat, don’t Michael and Prince me and Ye

Don’t let the MAGA hat fool you, they not gonna turn Jay and ‘Ye into fake enemies, with Trump talkin’ shit about Jay and lovin’ on Ye.


They separate you when you got Michael and Prince’s DNA, uh

Because they’re all trying to divide and conquer successful black folks!

I ain’t one of these house niggas you bought


My house like a resort, my house bigger than yours

I’m sure this line will burn Trump. Mar-a-Lago is a resort and shit. I wonder if Jay’s house is bigger. Ray J has a pretty big house, if you’ll remember.


My spou- (C’mon, man)

He got the flyest chick in the game wearing his chain, that’s right HOV!!!

My route better, of course

This reads like one of those lines to get to the next line.

We started without food in our mouth


They gave us pork and pig intestines

Slavery. And some of y’alls Turkey Days (we don’t say Thanksgiving...see below).

Shit you discarded that we ingested, we made the project a wave

We turn lemons into lemonade like a motherfucker.

You came back, reinvested and gentrified it


Took niggas’ sense of pride, now how that’s free?

Cultural erasure is all over the place; that ain’t freedom!

And them people stole the soul and hit niggas with 360s, huh

Industry rule number 4080: Record company people are shaaaaaaady.

I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars

This is called working smarter, not harder.

Inflating numbers like we ‘posed to be happy about this

Gassin’ folks up like “look at you!” without any of the financial returns.

We was praised in Billboard, but we were young

I think TLC covered this nicely.

Now I look at Billboard like, “Is you dumb?”

With age comes wisdom, Billboard doesn’t dictate success. Forget the charts. Don’t forget the culture. Preach.


To this day, Grandma ‘fraid what I might say/They gon’ have to kill me, Grandmama, I’m not they slave

Grandmothers do notoriously worry about how our actions might affect our safety.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, check out the bizarre/Rappin’ style used by me, the H-O-V

Shouts to Biggie. RIP. We’ll always love Big Poppa!

Look at my hair free, carefree, niggas ain’t Nair free/Enjoy your chains, what’s your employer name with the hairpiece?


Now, I will say this. I didn’t really take most of the verse as much of a shot at Kanye. In fact, I mostly viewed it as saying that though we know they can’t clearly be on the same page, they’re all still brothers at the end of the day. Thing is, I have no idea who else this line would be directed at. Unless he’s only talking about black Trump supporters. But the most famous one is...Kanye. I don’t know, man.

I survived the hood, can’t no Shaytan rob me/My accountant’s so good, I’m practically livin’ tax free


I doubt Jay is going hardbody with the white devil language, but I mean...but can I get that number to that accountant? I’d also like to live tax free.

Factory, that’s me/Sold drugs, got away scot-free/That’s a CC, E-copy/Guilt free, still me/And expect me to not feel a way to this day/You would say y’all killed me


You kind of just have to hear how Jay spit this.

Sucker free, no shuckin’ me, I don’t jive turkey/Say “Happy Thanksgiving,” shit sound like murder to me


Like I said up there (scoll up), we don’t say Happy Thanksgiving since that’s white folks in America’s first real murder spree.

Smoke free, all of y’all callin’ out toll free/Label rob you for millions yet you wanna put a hole in me


Jay’s callin’ everybody out who want that smoke, but nobody wants that smoke with him, which is why he’s smoke free. See what he did there?

Sugar free, seasoned but I’m salt free/You lay a hand on Hov, my shooter shoot for free/I promise World War three/Send a order through a hands free/Kill you in 24 hours or shorter, you can’t ignore the hand speed


Basically you don’t want it with Hov. He’ll never make the news again, his man’ll shoot you.

On god, it’s off the head, this improv but it’s no comedy/Sign I fail, hell nah/(Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha) Hahahahahahahahaha


In case you forgot, Jay doesn’t write shit down. You didn’t forget. He’s been telling us this for decades now.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



Jigga Man is still “nice with it”, I see.