Jay-Z shut down accusations of anti-Semitism after fans criticized a lyric about Jewish people on his song “The Story of O.J.”
The track, which is featured on the rapper’s new album 4:44, includes the lyrics, “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.”
Jay-Z, 47, addressed the accusations of anti-Semitism during a candid interview with Rap Radar podcast hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller on Friday, August 18. “It’s hard for me to take that serious because I’ve exaggerated every black image in the world,” he said.
“If even you, as the Jewish community, if you don’t have a problem with the exaggerations of the guy eating watermelon and all the things that was happening [in the ‘Story of O.J.’ music video], if you don’t have a problem with that, and that’s the only line you pick out, then you are being a hypocrite,” the Roc Nation founder continued. “I can’t address that in a real way. i got to leave that where it is.”
Jay-Z then laughed off the accusations, adding, “Of course I know Jewish people don’t own all the property in America. I mean, I own things! So I know that they don’t own all of the property in America. It was an exaggeration.”
In fact, the hip-hop star saw his lyric as a compliment. “I pretty much said, ‘If you want to be good at property and things like that, follow this pattern,'” he explained. “It’s almost like saying, ‘Kobe Bryant shot a lot of shots. If you want to be good at basketball, practice your thousand shots and do what he did.’ And then Kobe Bryant comes out and says, ‘Whatchu trying to say, all black people play basketball?’ That’s how ridiculous it is. … C’mon, you know I didn’t say that. Context is everything.”
After the song was released in late June, the Anti-Defamation League questioned the controversial lyric, but said it did “not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism.” In a statement to Rolling Stone, the Jewish organization added, “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.”
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