The Guarantee, iii or, Does Jay-Z know what “most” means?

A close analysis of the lyrics to “Roc Boys,” and possibly the most SWPL thing ever written.

In the first line of “Roc Boys” Jay-Z raps, “First of all, I wanna thank my connect, the most important person with all due respect.” In this lyric, Jay, speaking in the character of a drug dealer, thanks his supplier and, quite reasonably, says the supplier is the most important person. Without him, this character would have no drugs to sell, or, in a slightly less awful alternative, have to either pay more for his drugs or receive drugs of slightly less quality. Either way, his supplier is clearly very important to him, and it's reasonable for Jay to say he's the most important person, though it's nice of him to say “will all due respect” in order to mitigate hurt feelings among anyone else who though they were the most important person.

But, then at the end of the same verse, comes this line, “Yea, thanks to all the hustlers, and most important to you, the customer.” This appears to be saying that the most important person, rather than being on the supply side of the drug trade, is on the demand side.1 Where the truth lies here is a close question, as any individual customer is fairly easily replaceable while customers as a class are strictly necessary for the business's viability. But that's not why I'm writing, I'm writing because Jay-Z says that both the connect and the customer are the most important. And I started to wonder, can two things both be the most important?

And, after a little bit of thought on importance, I realized the answer is yes (ties in importance are possible) and that “most” just rules out there being any thing more important than the connect, not other things having equal importance. I should never have doubted Jay-Z's logic.

1. It's also possible to read this line as saying the most important person to thank is the customer, whether or not the customer is actually more important than the supplier, but I don't think that interpretation coheres with the track as a whole.