Jay-Z performing onstage during TIDAL X: 1020 Amplified by HTC at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Oct. 20, 2015. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for TIDAL

ADL expresses ‘concerns’ about Jay-Z Jewish lyric


The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern about a Jay-Z lyric that “Jewish people own all the property in America,” but emphasized that it did not believe that the rapper intended to promote anti-Semitism.

“The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money,” said an ADL statement released Friday. “The idea that Jews ‘own all the property’ in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance.”

The song, “The Story of O.J.,” on Jay Z’s latest album, “4:44” has attracted negative social media attention for its lyric, ““You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit/ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”

Jay Z’s defenders say the lyric is typical of his use of exaggerated stereotypes to make broader points about social problems — in this case, counseling African-American empowerment through emulation of Jewish business leaders.

“We do not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism,” the ADL said. “On the contrary, we know that Jay-Z is someone who has used his celebrity in the past to speak out responsibly and forcefully against the evils of racism and anti-Semitism.”

Is Jay-Z’s new song anti-Semitic?


Is Jay-Z’s new song anti-Semitic? Does it perpetuate negative stereotypes about Jewish property ownership?

That’s what some are saying online after the June 30 release of Jay-Z’s new album, “4:44,” which features the song, “The Story of O.J.” The song contains the lyric, “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit / You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This is how they did it.”

“Wasn’t really expecting Jay-Z to go anti-Semitic when I started the new 4:44 album this morning,” a Twitter user said in response, as BuzzFeed reported.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), however, said the song is not anti-Semitic.

“We do not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism. On the contrary, we know that Jay-Z is someone who has used his celebrity in the past to speak out responsibly and forcefully against the evils of racism and anti-Semitism,” the ADL said in a statement. “The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money. The idea that Jews “own all the property” in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish “control” of the banks and finance.”

In 2006, Jay-Z appeared with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in a public service announcement denouncing anti-Semitism.

 

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), the self-described “national address for Black-Jewish relations,” sponsored the 2006 pubic service announcement. Simmons chairs FFEU, which also promotes Muslim-Jewish relations. 

In the wake of criticisms that the new track is anti-Semitic, Simmons defended Jay-Z.

“I am the Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and my job for the past 20 years or so is to point out the ‘sameness of different religions and races.’ First, let me state that mischief-makers would like to take Jay’s statements about the culture and practices that exist within some parts of the Jewish community (notice I say some),” Simmons tweeted July 4. “The fact is this culture that promotes good business and financial well being is and has been a guiding light to the black and specifically the hip-hop community.”

On Instagram, Israeli-American talent manager Guy Oseary said the lyric, if anything, compliments the Jewish community.

“Jewish people do NOT ‘own all the property in America.’ Jay knows this. But he’s attempting to use the Jewish people in an exaggerated way to showcase a community of people that are thought to have made wise business decisions…In my opinion, Jay is giving the Jewish community a compliment,” Oseary said.

Jay-Z has previously rapped about Jews in a controversial way. On his 2007 soundtrack album, “American Gangster,” Jay-Z raps, “Had to get some challah bread so you can holla back and holla that/My Jewish lawyer too enjoyed the fruit of letting my cash stack.”

Can Drake reinvent the Toronto Raptors à la Jay-Z?


The Toronto Raptors are gearing up for a makeover from none other than Drake, the city’s very own Jewish rap sensation.

We know, you’re probably wondering if it’s even possible to infuse cool into a losing team with a tougher, redder Barney for a mascot. But according to the Toronto Star, the execs behind it all are modeling the re-branding on another very successful rapper-basketball joint venture: Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets.

“Hip hop’s cool uncle took an (incredibly tiny) ownership position in exchange for polishing the shield,” the Toronto Star says of Jay-Z. “He didn’t have to do much. Switch from Yankees to Nets ball-caps. Show up to a few games. Whisper in the ears of a few guys who grew up on The Blueprint.  The result is an almost instant contender, the sort of marquee brand future hall of famers want to be associated with.”

Now it’s Drake’s turn. In addition to hosting the 2016 NBA All-Star game, the self-described “Raptors fan to the death,” will launch a team-based clothing line and consult on the redesign of the their image for the 20th anniversary of the franchise in the 2014-2015 season.

The hope is that Toronto will soon become a city NBA players are willing to go to. And that Drake does something with that dinosaur.

Ellen Grossman reviews new Jay-Z album


After befriending rapper Jay-Z on the R train to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Ellen Grossman is now reviewing his latest album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” for MTV News.

Grossman, a Brooklyn born visual artist, was contacted by MTV News after a clip of her subway encounter with Jay-Z was featured in the documentary “Jay-Z’s Life and Times: Where I’m From.”

The unlikely reviewer analyzes a few of the rapper’s rhymes and metaphors, honing in on the trials and tribulations of his rise to fame.

“It sounds like he’s really going deep into his heart and into fatherhood and even the meaning of fame,” Grossman said. “[He’s saying] that the money’s nice, but there’s life beyond that, that he’s exploring. I picked that up from the papers but I felt it in the man too, when I met him. That he had a depth to him.

On one of the album’s 16 tracks, Jay-Z shows love to his Jewish fans — and his lawyers in particular – with the song “Somewhereinamerica.” The first line of the first verse reads, “Shout out to old Jews and old rules.”

This isn’t the only time Jay-Z has mused on Jews in his lyrics. ‘This Can’t Be Life,” from his fifth album, “Roc La Familia: The Dynasty,” has the lyric: “flow tight like I was born Jewish.” Jay-Z has used “Jewish” as an adjective to describe those that are smart or conservative with money.

In “What More Can I say?” from “The Black Album,” he refers to himself as, ”The Martha Stewart that’s far from Jewish,” due to his money savvy mind.

Can’t knock the hustle.

Jay-Z’s Brooklyn menorah


Jay-Z lit up the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn not only with his performance but a menorah. The rapper, a part owner of the arena and its main tenants, the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, put in a special request for his debut performance, wanting to light a candle for each of the eight nights he performed there (even with Chanukah nearly two months away).

Who provided the menorah?

That would be Brooklynite Amit Wehle, whose brother-in-law is the concert producer. Before the first show, Jay-Z stopped by Wehle’s apartment to thank him and offer two VIP tickets to his performance the next night. Also noteworthy at the new arena: two homecoming concerts by Barbra Streisand, a native of the borough's Flatbush section.