I first heard "Reasonable Doubt" in high school and when I was in high school. Roc-A-Fella was in their prime. The Blueprint 1 & 2 were already out. Jay was the top dog. State Property was buzzing. Dipset was crackin. The team was moving strong but even with all the dope music coming from the ROC I was stuck on Reasonable Doubt.
As years went on and after every listen I'd always find something interesting about that album as I became an adult. I never sold drugs in my life but it was fascinating to me how I could take songs off Reasonable Doubt that described the ways of the underworld and the ways you had to maneuver through it just to survive and I could compare them to a regular citizens life.
"Can I Live" is my favorite song from that album. Something about that song just makes you want to get up and go for it. In the speech Jay gave at the beginning of the track he said "We offer our lives. What do you bring to the table?" To offer your life to something is an all chips in mentality. You're betting on yourself and you're not looking back. Enter Emory Jones.
I first heard of Emory Jones from the song "Do You Wanna Ride" from Jay's "Kingdom Come" album. I had no clue who Emory was I just figured he had to be a special human being to have someone of Jay-Z's stature to dedicate a song to him.
I looked him up on the internet and all I saw was his case and I read about it and I was like "Damn that's what he's locked up for."
Years later his name was mentioned on the "Magna Carta" album and I was glad to hear he was home and has great love and support around him. I never really heard much about him after that and I think that was about 5 years ago.
One night I'm watching the Reasonable Doubt 20 Year Documentary and Emory is featured on there and he's speaking. It was my first time seeing what he looks like despite knowing who he was and his background.
When he explained that the "Can I Live" first verse was about him and how he got his name Vegas Jones I was like "Wow that's crazy!" I learn something new about Reasonable Doubt every year. The way Emory spoke and how people spoke highly of him I immediately looked him up to see if he had any social media since we're in the social media era. I figured he'd be like Jay and not use it but I found him on Instagram.
He post quotes everyday and I read them everyday just to get my day going and get me motivated to be the best writer I can be. He's one of the guys in the culture that I respect a great deal and I look up to. I want to give you the reasons why Emory Jones inspires me.
BOUNCE BACK OR BOUNCE BACKWARDS
Emory did a 12 year bid. Now does it help knowing that his best friend is the God M.C and has told the world that he's good when he touches down? Yes. Does that ensure success? No.
If that was the case then everyone Jay associates himself with would be successful. Which I'm sure isn't true. I'm sure he's helped people and they blew the opportunity. It's like the old saying goes. You can lead them to the water but you can't make them drink.
Emory had to come in the business and make a name for himself. 12 years is a long time. A LOT changed during those 12 years. He came in and started grinding and he molded the fashion aspect of Roc Nation into a force.
You know how many visions and ideas fail everyday? No matter how much money you have or whoever is backing you, if the people not fucking with your product or your brand there's no amount of money or relationships that will make the brand grow and prosper. The people of the culture have the say and they love the paper plane.
Emory could've came home, took his blessings for granted and not worked hard but that wasn't the case. He made the most of his second chance and bounced back instead of backwards.
I've seen some guys come home from bids and have good situations waiting for them but they never took advantage of the blessing and ended up right back in jail.
NO COMPLAINTS. JUST CONFIDENCE.
Everybody complains. Poor people. Rich people. Everybody. I've never seen this man complain about anything. As he stated in his interview with the breakfast club everyone was confused on why he was so positive in prison when they spoke to him.
That shows character and confidence. He knew that his setback wasn't forever and when his new chapter starts he would make his story even better. You just have to weather the storm and get back to what you love when the sun hits.
Emory probably learned a lot from everything he's been through. Good or bad. Only a great student can pass down the knowledge he passes down to people like me.
I'm sure he didn't know everything about the fashion game when he started but I'm willing to bet he studied, he listened to those who might've known more than he did and soaked up game. Asked for advice.
People who are great have one thing in common they're not ashamed or too good to be the student. Masters weren't born masters. They were once students and still are.
EMORY IS EMORY. JAY IS JAY.
Emory doesn't use Jay's name to his benefit. I admire that about him a lot. He's his own man and carved his own lane. It wouldn't look good for Emory to go into business meetings and dropping Jay-Z's name.
Yes they represent the same brand but Emory runs the fashion side of Roc Nation for a reason. It's because his partners believe he is brilliant, knowledgable, and they trust him.
Even though having Jay in his corner is a blessing, he moves and works like he has something to prove. He hustles like he doesn't have a dime.
The best love you could give yourself. Everything starts within you. You're special so why not bet on you? What do you have to lose?
Emory took a hard fall but he came back stronger because he bet on himself. The Puma deal. The New Era deal. Emory is bringing life to these brands with his vision all because he bet on himself.
This is important to me because before I started writing I was betting on everyone and everything but myself and of course I didn't see any progress. I've only been writing for a year and I've seen more progress in writing than anything I've ever pursued prior. All because I bet on myself started a site and just worked hard everyday.
This is deeper than me being a fan of Roc Nation and music in general. Emory, Biggs, Ty Ty, Jay, are all like my O.G'z that I haven't met yet but I will one day through my writing talent. Every time I see that gold couch I say to myself "Just keep grindin Benny. You'll sit on that gold couch soon." Being a writer on and managed by Roc Nation is a goal of mine.
I am grateful that men like Emory are showing younger people how to live life on the right path. He could've been out here talking about his past and bragging about his time in prison as a stripe but he doesn't. He could use the Vegas Jones days as a tool to gain respect but he doesn't. He took a different route and leads by example using the positivity in his life and shows us how betting on yourself has great benefits.
Watch Emory Jones Breakfast Club Interview