Jay-Z Wants You To Let Go of Empty Friendships

4 min readNov 21, 2020


When the relationship no longer serves either person, it’s okay to pivot.
Joel Leon.
Joel Leon.
23 hours ago·3 min read

“Everybody look at you strange say you changed, like you worked that hard to stay the same” — Jay-Z, “Most Kingz”
Welcome one and all to another edition of my Medium column, “What Would Hov Do?” where I handle some of your most pressing life questions with the help of Jay-Z lyrics. I know, what took so long?!
This week, “New Friends” has a good question that I think all of us have struggled with at some point or another:
“How do I let go of friends who no longer align with my energy?”
Life is seasonal — things, people, all come and go. Nothing stays the same. Life is transient, and we’re always in motion, moving and shifting and pivoting. What worked ten years ago may not be the same as what worked ten days ago. The relationships we have with one another are no different. We can grow together just like we can grow apart. And that’s okay.
When we’re intentional with the relationships we have and how we show up, we can see how a once-thriving relationship is now moving in a different direction. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with either person. In my case, the things I wanted to do changed when I turned 30. Things changed even more, when I became a parent.
There are so many variables that affect how we see the world. Our friends, family, and partners will not always directly align with our values, wants, and needs. We have the opportunity and the right to question whether the relationship we once held in high regard no longer serves the same purpose.
We tend to look at time as a barometer for how long we choose to maintain a relationship we hold dear. Sometimes, we’ll even stay to the detriment of our spirit to preserve the order of what we know and what we’re most comfortable with. The unknown can be overwhelming and scary.
So I’m interrupting our advice column for some much needed Jay-Z trivia: Hov’s verse above is one of my favorites, considering it was first heard during a Hot 97 freestyle session during a Funk Flex hour. The full version of the song is featured on a DJ Green Lantern mixtape.
Jay is telling us that change is good, even if that change could potentially mean a loss.
Letting go of friends and loved ones doesn’t mean we don’t love them anymore; it means we love ourselves enough to know that it may be time to move on in separate directions. It’s better than forcing energy that is no longer there.
It may not be amicable, but it requires us to trust ourselves, and recognize that we know what’s best for ourselves, even when what’s best doesn’t directly align with someone else’s version of the story. The ending of these relationships does not mean these people who we have love for are inferior to us, but that we’ve outgrown each other. We’re not supposed to all grow and go in the same directions. When paths diverge, we get to honor the time that was shared while moving on into the spaces we’re supposed top be, along with moving with the people we are supposed to be with.
You don’t have to stay where you no longer feel fed, nurtured, or seen. Maybe that distance or separation happens organically: Fewer texts, calls, and check-ins. Or perhaps it is more intentional in a final letter, voice note, or FaceTime.
However it goes, know that change is okay. If you don’t believe me, ask Hov.
For the newbies out there, feel free to get familiar with some of my previous Medium work here. And here. Oh, and here, too.

Joel Leon.
he/him. i tell stories for black people. work: @taylorstrategy @nike @twitter @gatesfoundation @ted @hbo @ethelsclub @medium @newsweek @twloha #BXFOREVER


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he/him. i tell stories for black people. work: @taylorstrategy @nike @twitter @gatesfoundation @ted @hbo @ethelsclub @medium @newsweek @twloha #BXFOREVER
Nov 13
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Jay-Z Wants You To Live With Regrets
Word to Jay (and Brené) — own, embrace, and fully step into living with those regrets
“This is the number one rule for your set
In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets” — Jay-Z, “Regrets”
If you’re just tuning in, welcome. My Medium column, “What Would Hov Do?,” resolves your random problems with my pen and some invaluable bars courtesy of Hovito.
This week, we’ve got a request from someone we’re going to call “Regrets.” And “Regrets” has an important question many of us sit with regardless of where we are on our journeys: