Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers of all time, struck a nerve on Wednesday, Aug. 31, during a live chat on Twitter Spaces hosted by DJ Khaled and music journalist Rob Markman. In the midst of explaining his verse on “God Did,” the New York rapper attempted to give listeners a history lesson about how the economic system affects Black Americans. Fans criticized his comparison of the word “capitalist” to racial slurs.
“We not gone stop. Hip-hop is young,” Hov began. “It’s still growing. We not falling for that tricknology or whatever the public puts out there now. Before it was the American Dream –‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You can make it in America.’ All these lies that America told us our whole life, and then when we start getting it, they try to lock us out of it.” He insists, “They start inventing words like capitalist. We’ve been called n—–s and monkeys and s–t. I don’t care what words y’all come up with. Y’all gotta come with stronger words.”
Hip Hop’s first billionaire said he won’t be “tricked out of the position,” claiming the term is used to “lock out” successful Black Americans. He also touched on the “Eat the rich” concept, which is used to when folks discuss wealth inequality and holding others accountable on behalf of the less fortunate. The Brooklyn native detailed growing up in a crowded house with his family in Marcy projects, where he once did an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2009.
After becoming one of the richest men in America, the 52-year-old said Black Americans should no longer “feel shamed to be successful in a place that was set up a system for us to be dead at 21. No sir, not us.”
On “God Did,” he raps, “Hov is a real n—-‘s dream / My only goal, to make a real n—a feel seen.” The entrepreneur felt the song’s message and lyrics came across fluently to his peers and other intellects.
He said, “I got calls from everybody like, ‘Yea we needed that there,’ or ‘that was amazing.’ [A$AP] Ferg hit me up like, ‘We needed that right there.’ For people to articulate and understand what we’re going through.”
Fans had mixed opinions about Jay-Z’s remarks, but many support what he’s done for hip-hop and how he’s inspired Black Americans. Many acknowledged the Grammy winner’s evolution as a “changed” man and left room for their own understanding.
One said, “Jay-Z has become a complete capitalist shill; the embodiment of the disconnect, self-indulgent rich man. The guy who came from poverty and had to sell coke just to make ends meet isn’t there anymore. He’s completely disconnected from the working class struggle. He’s changed.”
A second person made reference to the viral debate over whether fans would take $500,000 or have dinner with the Roc Nation mogul Jay-Z.
“If this is what dinner with Jay-Z is like man give me my $500k asap!” they wrote. In response, another individual attempted to explain how he relates to Jay-Z’s thinking. They wrote, “Actually, he’s telling you how to become a billionaire. He’s clearly saying f— Black liberation. Join the Empire & you will be a billionaire/capitalist too. You can’t have it both ways. You have to choose a side.”
Another said, “Maybe I’m crazy but I understood what Jay-z was trying to say in that Space. His point was about people moving the goalposts once you achieve something. But everyone stuck on the ‘capitalist’ word.”