Unplugged Headphones: Nickels and Dimes (Jay – Z)

“DID I DO IT FOR HIM OR DO IT FOR MYSELF?”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jay Z’s life story, he grew up in a single-parent household in Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, New York, and resorted to dealing crack to better his situation. He has since gone on to amass a net worth of approximately $900 million through his music and entrepreneurial ventures. Now that he’s in a position to help those in need with his wealth, he’s had to face the reality that giving back to his people is a not as easy as it appears to be on the surface.

“Nickels and Dimes” takes us through his thought process.

‘Giving’ is a far more complex concept than people would like to acknowledge. The act of “giving” is itself fallible, because giving almost always results in loss… loss of time… loss of money… loss of patience.

Why do we give? This is the question that Jay Z finds himself pondering when he says “Did I do it for him or do it for myself?”.

That might sound a bit confusing considering the element of ‘loss’ involved in ‘giving’, but this is what I got from it; I think he’s asking himself if he’s genuinely helping to see a development in the person or situation he’s intervening in or if he’s only helping to absolve himself from future accountability? How many times have we said something along the lines of “at least he/she can’t say I didn’t try to help”.

“THE PUREST FORM OF GIVING IS ANONYMOUS TO ANONYMOUS, WE GON’ MAKE IT THERE, I PROMISE THIS”

Alright, so help people with genuine intentions. Got it ✅

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Even in situations where your intentions for helping someone are genuine, the way the help manifests itself might still not lead to the desired outcome.

A wise man once said that giving is “50% action, 50% intention” (that man was me, I just made that quote up now).

For example, Jay Z takes us back to a time when he tried to help someone by giving them money, not knowing that he was in fact enabling their drug addiction.

“I GAVE SOME MONEY TO THIS GUY HE GOT HIGH AS HELL”

What he didn’t realise at the time, is something that most of us don’t realise; we don’t actually want money, we want the things that money can provide us with, what we actually want is ‘opportunity’. I mean when you think about it no matter the amount, whether it be $10 dollars or $10 million dollars, it’s all just a bunch of nickels and dimes at the end of the day.

Who should you give to and how should you go about giving to them? I don’t expect a 5 minute song to give me the answers to those questions, but I like that it sparks those type of thoughts.

I hope that this post doesn’t stop anyone from giving because there’s no greater feeling that knowing that you helped someone get out of a dark place. When you give from a genuine place, all of the losses I listed at the beginning become irrelevant, because the joy you’ll feel overpowers all of that.

What I do hope is that everyone who reads this post leaves with the same message that I left with when I unplugged my headphones….

Giving should always be a selfless act, but never a thoughtless one.

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