“On to the Next One” by Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz
Swizz Beatz’ intro/chorus firmly establishes what the phrase “on to the next one” means within the context of this song. It’s like the vocalist has engaged in a business endeavor, made a sh*tload of money from it, so now it’s “on to the next one”, which will inevitably prove successful also. And he is confident of its success, as such is the modus operandi which he has established, i.e. making big money.
But as far as the first verse goes, Jay-Z doesn’t use the titular phrase in that way per se. Rather what he is putting forth is his wherewithal to stay abreast of and practice the latest fashions.
Such a lifestyle is accessible to him since he has the money to do so, which ultimately serves as sort of the main theme of the passage, i.e. Jigga remaining perpetually viable in the hunt. And as fans of Mr. Carter know, his lyrics are often imbued with espousements of work ethic.
And in that regard, this time around he’s saying that you “can’t be scared to fail in the search of perfection”. Adopting such an ideology, under his own personal understanding, includes regularly changing girlfriends, replacing the used with the “fresh” ones also.
Not Going to Live in the Past
Another notable idea that the rapper introduces at the onset of both the first and second verses is his refusal to harp in the past. In other words, this is an artist whom many people associate with the 1990s, i.e. the decade in which Jay-Z dropped a lot of his signature songs. But he’s not going to keep regurgitating the old in the name of appeasing fans who prefer it that way.
Rather the vocalist is someone who is ever-evolving in all aspects of his life, a notion which we can take as being the thesis sentiment of this entire piece maybe. Moreover, considering Jay-Z’s unequal standing as the most-senior trending emcee in the game, he often uses songs such as these to impart sort of this uncle-like wisdom. And what he is saying, comprehensively put, is that being an artist is “about progression”, not just blowing up per se.
And perhaps in the name of illustrating this point, Jigga points out how he used to promote Cristal, a brand of liquor which, as long-time fans of the rapper know, he regularly namedropped in song.
But since discovering that the company is “racist”, he’s now drinking Spades’ champagne, a brand which, by the way, Jay-Z is part owner of. So let’s say that now instead of being compelled to push someone else’s product, Mr. Carter has moved “on to the next” level, i.e. being able to promote his own brand.
The Path to Success
And even from the days of old, when Jigga was but a street-based drug dealer, he “always knew” that one day he’d make it big like this. So now he is able to mock his agemates who, unlike himself, haven’t made any progress throughout the years. But alas, Jigga is not bragging just for bragging’s sake.
Rather the conclusive idea being presented is that his come-up can be taken as a roadmap of how one should conduct himself if you too want to succeed. Or as Jay-Z puts it, he’s sort of like the life “coach” of hip-hop.
Somewhat ironically, if you will, Jay begins the third verse by mentioning Big Pimpin, a song he came out with back in 1999. He then proceeds to once again flaunt his status and wealth by detailing how he conducts himself with certain vehicles on the road.
And so it is with the rest of verse. You probably don’t need us to tell you that Jay-Z has accomplished some great things in his life. And as rappers tend to do sometimes, he illustrates this fact by rather calling out other famous people whom he’s associated with.
And indeed the names that he drops in that respect – Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and the late Michael Jackson – are verily individuals renowned throughout the world, even more so than Jay-Z himself. In fact the rapper is even able to boast of giving Oprah the full ‘hood experience, which honestly speaking is a major accomplishment.
So by the time all is said and done, well, maybe Jigga and Swizz conceptualized “On to the Next One” as a song akin to an inspirational piece. But as far as the verses go, they most specifically focus on Jay-Z’s greatness and the cockiness thereof.
Presumably some listeners do look up to him and therefore would want to emulate his road to the riches. But in that regard there is not really any instruction being put forth except maybe to stay tenacious.
“On to the Next One” Facts
Primary Artist(s): Jay-Z
Featured Artist(s): Swizz Beatz
Album/EP: “The Blueprint 3”
Was “On to the Next One” a single release?
Yes. It was the 4th single from Jigga’s “The Blueprint 3” studio album. This commercially successful album produced a ton of hit singles, including these:
- “Empire State of Mind”
- “Young Forever”
It was written by Jay-Z and the following:
- Swizz Beatz
- Gaspard Auge
- Xavier D. Rosnay
- J. Chaton.
Production: Swizz Beatz
- Hip hop
- Alternative hip hop
Release: December 15 of 2009
The song won an award for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 53rd Grammy Awards. That was Jay-Z’s thirteenth Grammy award in total. The following songs competed with “On to the Next One” in that category:
- “Shutterbugg” performed by Big Boi & Cutty
- “Fancy” performed by Drake, Swizz Beatz, & T.I.
- “My Chick Bad” performed by Ludacris & Nicki Minaj
- “Lose My Mind” performed by Young Jeezy & Plies
“On to the Next One” was used on “NBA 2K13” (an NBA video game). It also featured on a commercial for a New York based exercise and media company, Peloton.
- UK – 13
- US – 37
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