Jay-Z Slammed Over Lyrics Perpetuating Jewish Stereotypes

"We are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish 'control' of the banks and finance," said the Anti-Defamation League.

Jay-Z Slammed Over Lyrics Perpetuating Jewish Stereotypes on new album 4:44

Since releasing his new album on June 30, Jay-Z has managed to do two things in less than a week — gain platinum status and stir up anti-Semitic controversy. While the former sounds great, there are some who are less than enthusiastic about the lyricist’s accomplishment, including the Anti-Defamation League.

The veteran rapper and business man whose album entitled “4:44” dropped a song last week “The Story of O.J.” containing a line that sparked fury in the Jewish community.

In the song he raps, “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.”

While on the outside appearing to give praise, the track immediately ignited a heavy debate about whether or not Jay-Z was promoting harmful stereotypes.

The Anti-Defamation League, a non-government Jewish organization that monitors bigotry in the U.S. and abroad, voiced its concerns.

A rep for the ADL told Rolling Stone, “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.”

Even Twitter was set ablaze with opinionated tweets.

One tweet read, “I don’t appreciate Jay Z perpetuating a stereotype about Jewish culture in his discussion of black culture.”

Another contained a blank-stare face meme.

But despite the mixed reactions and criticism, the ADL did acknowledge that they did “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 continued.

Madonna and U2’s manager, Guy Oseary, who is Jewish and was born in Israel, came to Jay-Z’s defense in an Instagram post that included a picture of him standing next to Jay-Z.

“Jewish people do NOT ‘own all the property in America,’” Oseary said. “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. An example of what is possible and achievable.”

Oseary continued by adding, “In my opinion, Jay is giving the Jewish community a compliment. ‘Financial freedom’ he mentions as being his ONLY hope. If you had to pick a community as an example of making wise financial decisions achieving financial freedom who would you choose? I’m not offended by these lyrics.”

Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul who co-founded Def-Jam Records, made similar remarks on social media.

“Mischief makers would like to take Jay’s statement about the culture and practices that exist within some parts of the Jewish community (notice I say some),” Simmons wrote on twitter.

“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,” he said.

Israeli American talent manager Guy Oseary pictured with Jay-Z

Israeli American talent manager Guy Oseary pictured with Jay-Z.

“From music to film, television, fashion, technology and financial services, the hip-hop community including myself have partnered with Jews where there were no blacks to partner with,” read a statement that not only supports Jay-Z’s intentions, but touches on the history of Blacks finding support for their businesses during a time when it was exceptionally scarce.

Though startling for some, Jay-Z said on iHeartRadio that he created the album “4:44” to empower his community. In an explanation of the meaning behind each song on the now platinum album, Jay-Z described the “The Story of O.J.” being a song about “how we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward.”

According to The Atlantic, Jay-Z responded to prior criticisms in his book “Decoded” and wrote that, “when I use lines like this, I count on people knowing who I am and my intentions, knowing that I’m not anti-Semitic or racist, even when I use stereotypes in my rhymes.”

 

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14 comments


  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    It’s still dumb and false. A writer with his creative chops could have made his point without a blatant falsehood that feeds into anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  • I take a very different view, and feel that as we talk, we also must talk about cultural values and systems of organization. Sure it is important to pause before repeating negative stereotypes, or even stereotypes at all. But cultural differences matter, and the different forms of cultural organization, reflect the kinds of supports available to its members – and each culture is different – with different legacy, geography, climate, types of land and resources. Talking about history and differences with some negative references, must not be outlawed by people who have assumed that bland “tolerance” is the only proper way to communicate. Growing up in Montreal, all citizens referred to cultural differences regularly. Where cultures are more equal and interact with each other, references and considerations arise naturally, when we see things we would not expect in our own culture. Where we make mistakes, I think, is when we – from the distant view of another culture – interpret intentions, and even worse, say things like “it will never change”. That kind of negative rigidity, spoken from afar, leaves no option of comparison, further study, modification, exceptions, or change, as different cultures and generations come into contact and learn from each other. The motto is “be kind” and if you make a mistake, say, “I’m sorry, I’d like to learn to express my ideas in a way that is more informed.” That’s it.

    Personally, I think that relying on explorations that must be translated to paper and recorded – leave shared learning too rigid and complex, hampering conversations and images that can lead to learning and mutual growth – paper process is so complex, dry and cumbersome, and assuming that no other human beings care or have essential values in their more flexible assessments of evolving life – there is much to be studied, that is often dismissed, gets overlooked in the arguments over what has been documented on paper.

  • Greg Thrasher

    Of course Jay Z invoked bigotry into this lyric .. I also found it offensive to reading the quotes from both a Jewish and Black person excusing away this bigotry of Jay Z

    BLM

  • Jay-Z should not have to apologize to the racist, Nazist ADL or any Eastern Europeans who call themselves Jews for any alleged racist stereotypes. Jewish dominated Hollyweird created all the stereotypes of dumb, bug-eyed, stupid Blacks, Mexicans and Indians since the 1950’s.

    The Jewish dominated music industry opened a portal [to Hellish] misogynist cRap music for knuckle-crawling, crouch-grabbing thugs of all races. Those Jewish thugs who unleashed the Lil Wayne’s, Jay-Z’ S and Master P’s owe civilized, decent people an apology.

    If slumlords, excessive usury, and predatory pawnshops and lending, including Bernie Madoff clones equates to “wise financial decisions,” I’d rather be poor and model myself after another piece of scandalous scum: A homeless, thieving, predatory crackhead.

    The ADL needs to run down its own Jewish racists and sexual predators who are given a license to HATE EVERYONE except other JEWS. These midgets hate and abuse born-again Christians, Muslims, Blacks, Palestinians, etc., but NO ONE is allowed to slightly critique their underhanded tactics.

    Jay-Z’ s Jewish handlers are not going to stop sucking up to him; there’s too much money for their greedy hands. Derogatory Jewish stereotypes are not made out of a vacuum, that’s the only “wise financial decisions” (i.e., as usurious financial and sexual predators) they honestly earned. I pity anyone who emulates anything they do, especially being duplicitous and traitorous to every country that welcomed them. ADL will sic its racist Gestapo KKKlan on anyone who exposes their hypoCRAZY.

    • Unlike ZaziJams, Jay-Z may not have harbored any hateful intentions. Nevertheless, stereotypes are just that, and dehumanize and diminish individuals.

      • Jay-Z may not have harbored any hateful intentions. Good call. No money in driving audience away. I remember famously-Christian football hero Reggie White, a decade or so ago, making a total fool of himself spouting a long series of commonly-held racial stereotypes and expanding upon them, and, it seemed, afterward taking the more serious and thoughtful criticisms he received to heart. There may be some hope for some of us.

  • People must make the stark distinction between those in the Jewish faith. The issue Jay Z is bringing up is toward White Jews. To be more specific and blunt, White Jewish people or White Jews. White Jews have not been the meek, non-adversarial, abuse followed victims they themselves perpetuate. Granted there was the European Jewish Holocaust during WWII and the continued abuse/discrimination which occurred globally.

    But let’s never forget the following:

    – White Jews role in the African slave trade

    – almost singlehandedly controlling the silver screen industry during the early part of this century to now, green lighting movies depicting Black people as brutes, violent offending miscreants, sexually crazed animals

    – and overall their part in American society functioning as White racists toward Blacks in every form of industry and institutions

    Jay Z’s commentary along with other Black people is an indictment not of White Jews religion but their ability to function in Western society while benefiting from White privilege. So it has more to do with the color of their skin than their religion.
    The bad outweighs the good efforts put forth by White Christians and Jewish people alike.

    Just my view as a Black man in America. Like it, love it, hate it. Don’t and won’t matter to me. I’ll still be a Black man and if you’re White, you’ll still be apart of a racial group continuing to receive White privileges. So White criticism for Jay Z’s lyrics will most likely not enter my ears and fly right out the other if I happen to hear it.

    • Greg Thrasher

      Interesting analysis… Yes majority of Jewish Americans are White.. Yes there is racism and bigotry in the White Jewish community towards Black Americans

      Yet all of these truths do not excuse Jay Z and his bigotry

      BLM

      • Thank you. I knew when it got to the part about, “granted, there was this inconvenient thing called the Holocaust,” that we were about to get a “they had it coming” argument! :-)

        • grannybunny, you need to get a life. For that statement, I’m not even going to explain myself about using the word “granted” as if to mean that’s a straightforward reason for someone being sadistically murdered. If you’re analysis is that singular in the nature, you couldn’t possibly understand any rationale I placed forth previously. So it’s safe to say it’ll go over your head anyways and end up being a wasted effort for everyone.

          But I see you and Greg fail to bring up or even explain the reason why Jay Z put forth words of frustration attached to the White Jewish community by the Black community. Jay Z’s mistake was his words weren’t focused. So the ADL and you all have found an opening and not intuitively or unable to discern in context his statements. Everyone wants to act brand new or play the fool part. Very interesting.

      • You’re falling for and giving a BS narrative that plays into not putting what Jay Z is saying in its proper context in an effort to make people think what you’re saying is accurate.

        When Black people express consternation about the Jewish community’s subsequent acts of racism, their speaking about White Jews only. Everyone Black knows who he’s talking about. In fact I’m very sure you as a Black man are aware what he’s talking about. You’ve been around more than a day so I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the discussions within the Black community referring to the Jewish community but speaking directly about White Jews.

        Jay Z is doing no type of bigotry showboating about the Jewish community. He simply isn’t properly distinguishing between the racial ethnic groups within the Jewish faith. Okay White Jews don’t own every piece of land and aren’t the supreme force in the banking industry as well as others. The “but” is Jewish Whites have a significant play and footprint in these industries by which they’ve themselves used to disenfranchise Black people on a reoccurring basis.

        • Greg Thrasher

          I have addressed the racism in White Jewish venues in America.

          I do not understand your continued defensive attitude and over the top apologist rant for Jay Z.

          Jay Z is an adult he can own his ignorance here . I am not offering any cover for the brother

          BLM

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