Can Jay-Z Really Not Wear Skinny Jeans?

Last night’s Grammy performance of epic 2008 mega-super-hit “Swagger Like Us,” featuring M.I.A., Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, and T.I. — what more or less amounts to hip-hop’s version of the Traveling Wilburys — was awesome. The song, which prominently features M.I.A.’s line from “Paper Planes” — “no one on the corner got swagger like us” — has been remixed, covered, freestyled over, and remixed again by practically everyone in hip-hop. It’s really that good. But last night’s performance, which put the entire Staples Center on its feet, reminded me what the song’s most ingenious line is: Jay-Z’s opening salvo, in which he declares that “no one on the corner/got a bop like this/don’t wear skinny jeans/’cause my knots won’t fit.” Is the ubiquitous rapper telling the truth with a legitimate grievance against tight jeans? Or has Jay-Z made it his business to personally end the trend himself for strictly sartorial motivations?

Jay-Z’s denouncement of one of the most prominent fashion trends of the last few years could be any number of things — we’re here to explore them all.

Scenario 1: Knots is a literal euphemism for balls.” Assuming he’s referring to his testicles, and unless Jay-Z has elephantitis, we doubt that his “knots” wouldn’t fit—when there’s a will, there’s a way. As far as concerns of fertility issues go, a totally unscientific Yahoo board says “no issue” (my urologist, a Cornell-educated doctor, was far too busy to “deal with this bullshit”).

Scenario 2: He’s simply not down with a “bulge” of any stripe. Wearing skinny jeans presents the issue of having to actually carry things in your skinny jeans, forgetting any personal anatomy issues. According to UrbanDictionary.com, “knots” is slang for “A wad of money; a stack of cash you keep in your pocket.” We understand this—skinny jeans make it difficult to carry things in your pockets. Leave them there too long, and they’ll leave a potentially embarassing imprint. That being said, why’s Jay-Z carrying around cash? Doesn’t he have a Centurion card or something? Does he still feel the need to assert his “status” amongst other rappers by carrying cash? Or did he see this recession coming from a mile away, hence the need to carry physical currency?

Scenario 3: He thinks that men’s skinny jeans are an emasculating trend, and thus, “knots” are metaphorical placeholders for his masculinity. I kind of doubt this, if only because Jay-Z could wear Agent Provocateur panties over his bespoke suit pants, and he’d still be more masculine (and comfortable with it) than almost everyone I know, and white kids in Ohio would still ape it. Jay-Z does not have masculinity issues with skinny jeans.

Final Answer: We think Jay-Z is far too busy to deal with the physical inconveniences of skinny jeans, and the decision is not satorial; it’s simply a matter of time being used throughout the day. We will say this, however: extremity, as opposed to moderation, is by rule-of-thumb, bad. Remember Jnco‘s? The tighter our jeans get, the more we’re going to look back, think of the skinny-jean trend that we’re going through now, and cringe. We ultimately respect Jay-Z’s advocacy against skinny jeans.

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