I’ll admit, I’ve never really been a fan of Jay Z, he writes lyrics, makes hit records, good for him. He’s not doing anything his predecessors haven’t done, maybe even better. So you know, whatever. But the modicum of likeness I had for Jay Z really died when I saw his interview with Oprah Winfrey, you know the one where he gives a pathetic explanation for his continuos glorification of the N-Word in his songs.
“we turned the word that was hurtful and ugly into a term of endearment” he said.
Maybe he should check with the people on the front lines, people who were thought to be less than nothing, people who died defying the use of that word, degraded by the use of that word, those who suffered the worst of racism…, to get their feedback on his nonsensical reasoning. Because it is such nonsense.
For someone who has elevated himself to such a status, someone who damn near has his own platform, that’s a pretty myopic and unintelligent view to have and a disregard for history. Grammy Award winning artist, more Number 1 albums than Elvis, has a stupendous influence on the music industry… he can do better. He ought to.
In a recent interview with Rap Radar Jay Z addressed remarks made by Mr Harry Belafonte in 2012, about his poor showing when it comes to Social Responsibility.
“First of all this is gonna sound arrogant but my presence is charity, just who I am. Just like Obama’s is…just being who he is…‘
For real though? It may be time to cool off the kool-aid.
He also takes offence with Mr. Belafonte’s comparison of him to Bruce Springsteen which speaks volumes about his intellect or lack there of, more than anything else.
“I felt like Belafonte, he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it in the media and then he bigged up like Bruce Springsteen… You just sent like the message the wrong way around…you are this Civil Rights activist, you just bigged up the white guy against me in the white media“
Cue the eye roll.
You can see the interview in its entirety here
There’s more response in his song, Nickles and Dimes, the first Jay Z record I listened to since dirt off your shoulders, but it was the usual slew of N-words and expletives and an utter lack of respect for Mr Belafonte. Belittling quite frankly.
This is not a Black or White issue Jay Z, it never was so please stop trash talking yourself into a corner, its not a good look, its egregious, to use your own words. Mr Harry Belafonte has earned the right to call you out, or any other celebrity for that matter, because as an entertainer Mr Belafonte has used his music as a platform for greater things; he is a Civil Rights Activist, one of the people who fought for the freedom you so trivialise by using that ugly word, he Marched on Washington in 1963, he was a part of USA for Africa project that raised millions for Africa, alongside Springsteen, who has also used his music as a platform to help war veterans, Amnesty International and has been honoured as MusicCares Person of the Year, the same way Alicia Keys is an activist in her humanitarian efforts to Keep A Child alive by fighting aids, the same way Elton uses his AIDS foundation…to artists like these their celebrity is more than just showing up and they recognise their fame as a tool to impact a lasting change not just increase the size of their bank balance. Charity knows no colour, no class. Its about helping those who cannot help themselves.
I’m not saying I’m any better at charity nor will I ever claim to be, but I do believe we all have a social responsibility, those of us who can, to perform. The reason Mr. Belafonte singles out Jay Z is because he is arguably the most influential artist of our time and has a wider reach. Its not okay for Jay Z to just make hit records, he ought to show up for humanity otherwise whatever legacy he cultivates will essentially be for naught. The world is saturated with the culture of self, politics and politicians are disheartening at present so celebrities are the other viable means by which change and charity will have a lasting impact on society, because they have no obligations to the left or right per se.
Suffice it to say Jay Z is ill informed and unaware because if he was he’d understand that though Mr Belafonte did not make as much money as he’s done, it is the sacrifices of Mr Belafonte’s generation that paved the way for him to be where he is today.
Its no secret that in 2010 Jay Z reportedly made $63m and donated just over $6,000 to charity. In his words; riddle me that. How he chooses to expend his wealth and celebrity is his business, I get that, and its probably lofty to ask that he justify his status too, but for unto whomever much is given, of him shall be much required. Luke 12:48.
His reasoning is deeply flawed and small minded. You influence a movement Jay Z, to a great extent you have bridged a gap with your music, in the way most artists cannot and some never will, between generations and races, you have even more power to speak and act for those less fortunate than the average Joes who are speaking and acting. Its much more than just showing up, its an evolution of self and an awareness of your status and to that effect, channeling it for the greater good. Not just for the next dollar bill. And it is not a lot to expect from you, not when you staged a boycott of Cristal for making sanctimonious remarks about the hip-hop culture. Priorities Jay z, PRIORITIES. Get your mind right.
There may be other charitable donations he makes anonymously and works he carries out we know nothing about, but for all intents and purposes whatever charity he has performed or will perform, will be marred by this careless comment. Oh the internet has a memory like an Elephant’s, you’ll do well to remember that next time you open your mouth and chat shit.
Get it together Sean Carter and whilst you’re at it acquire some manners and show some respect to your elders. Mr Belafonte has earned that much at least.