Rap: Oh, how far your
masters leaders have fallen from the tree.
On Nov. 10, Jay-Z of Roc-A-Fella aka Rocawear decided to go political by selling t-shirts that read, “Occupy All Streets” with the “W” crossed-out from the word “Wall” and an “S” added to the end of word “Street.” This is kind of cool and hip, I guess. It’s also a bit disturbing, like the “Vote or Die” campaign that was endorsed by Diddy. Jay-Z began to receive criticism because he and his label were making money from a movement without donating a dime to it. So Jay-Z made a PR decision and from the bottom of his dishonest heart, he yanked the shirts from his website.
These shirts are a political statement if you consider money as being political. It’s funny because money is an integral part of the political system, so why should anyone be surprised with the decisions Jay-Z and his record label have made? On the other hand, this is exactly what the Occupy movement is all about. If there is a consensus that comes from this movement, it is to get money out of politics because it has corrupted the system (Obama is on the path to raising over $1 billion for the elections of 2012). How could Jay-Z not know this? Actually, that is not the right question. The question should be “Does Jay-Z really care about the Occupy movement?” I think we all know what the real answer is.
There was always something about Jay-Z that never really spoke to me. He’s a talented artist and a smart business man, but he doesn’t speak to me. He’s not honest to me and that’s what is important to me as an avid listener of rap. He’s always in his persona and he just feels like a fraud to me; He always has. Am I upset with the move he made? I am a little perturbed, yes, but I understand that Jay-Z is all about the benjies.
All of his raps talk about how much of an empire he has obtained through rapping. That’s a great achievement for any man, especially a black man like himself who came from nothing. But as you reach your forties, wouldn’t you get tired of hearing yourself talk about how much money you have? As a rapper, don’t you want to be a positive role model for the rest of the black community who desperately needs some guidance, a mentor and/or someone who cares about them?
At times, Jay-Z reminds me of Michael Jordan. They do things that endanger the black community. They brainwash our youth into thinking that money and power are the only things to be proud of in this short journey we all partake in: life. Don’t you want to die and have someone say something other than “Damn, that dude died with a lot of money in his bank.”? If you don’t want to achieve this as a human being, don’t you at least want to uplift your community as a rapper; As someone who knows the struggle and came from nothing?
I understand that the rap game has changed from what I listened to in the 90s, but damn, Jay-Z was a product of the 80s and 90s, so where is the passion that transcends materialism? We have one of the biggest movements the country has seen in 50 years and the only thing on your mind is money. Are you free or enslaved by your way of thinking? Jay-Z is doing the same thing the hustlers on the street corner did when Obama ran for presidency. They’ll use people’s passion for an idea as a way to make cash. This is no different from what most politicians do, so Jay-Z needs to run for office—He seriously does.
Now, in no way am I surprised with the decision of Jay-Z and Rocawear. Even D.C. native rapper Wale said he fell off from Rocawear because his vision wasn’t exactly in tune with theirs. He called them out for being about the business aspect of rap and nothing else. This is not what Wale is about. He is an underdog, a poet and a passionate rapper trying to embed the DMV in the nation’s conscience. Jay-Z has always been Wale’s favorite rapper, but I wonder if he still feels the same.
This debacle is something that the majority of rap listeners are probably not even conscious of. Most listeners of rap don’t even know what Occupy Wall Street is, so Jay-Z and his PR team will spin this ordeal in such a way where they will probably make even more money than through some silly shirts. Everyone will forget this happened, Jay-Z and Kanye will team up with Jesus to make a greatest hits album, the masses will follow and all will be right on Earth. Do your thing Jay-Z. But understand that now you’ve just branded yourself with a big “1%” on your forehead, Inglorious Basterds style.