I put dollars on mine, ask Columbine /
When the Twin Towers dropped, I was the first in line.
Donating proceeds off every ticket sold /
When I was out on the road, that’s how you judge Hov, no?
Jay-Z is taking quite a bashing these days over his recent dust up with civil rights legend Harry Belafonte, especially after his flippant “my presence is charity” remark in reaction to Belafonte’s request for a heart to heart with Hov to squash the beef. Well here’s my response on his behalf, going out to all of you armchair activist types taking shots at one of the greatest rappers to ever live: quite simply, I think you all need to step off your high horses...
What you guys fail to acknowledge is that Jay-Z has already given us all a great deal due to his stunning contributions to hip hop music and culture. He performs this amazing art form at its highest possible level and in so doing provides us with priceless value.
Picasso Baby. Watch the video. It’s performance art. It’s magnificent. It’s inspirational. It makes me and a whole generation of project kids want to strive for new heights. Watching Jay-Z own the Pace Gallery is all the proof we need to understand that talent plus hard work can take us to the farthest reaches of the earth.
That’s the gift from Jay-Z. Thus his presence is indeed charity. You can deny it if you want, but that does not make it untrue. To dismiss his accomplishments or somehow imply that his success has come at our culture’s expense is a travesty. If you can dismiss Jay-Z so easily then you dismiss this entire culture that we’ve created.
“And if you can’t respect that your whole perspective is whack”
But let me get back to Mr. Belafonte. Do you guys really not see the role he played in triggering Jay-Z’s bitter response? I can tell you right now that if someone aims a camera at you and you decide to take that as an opportunity to disrespect me and my family -- ”yeah, look at Lamont and Michelle, they’re not doing anything to support the South Orange / Maplewood community” -- then you should expect nothing but venom in response from me. You want me to do more? Then call me up man to man, don’t put me on blast in the media. Jay-Z is an intelligent middle-aged man who does not deserve to be chastised in front of the world by anybody. Not even Harry Belafonte.
“The purest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous / We gon’ make it there. I promise this”
The thing is, if you had actually listened to “Nickels and Dimes” then you would know that it’s a song about struggling with the very notion of giving back. Jay-Z reflects on coming to terms with his survivor’s guilt. He gives and he gives but it’s never enough is it? He wants to give anonymously without having to send a press release every time he helps an old lady across the street. He wants to feel good about himself while enjoying the spoils of his success. And in the midst of trying to figure this thing out, HB comes along to call him out in the media?
“I’m just trying to find common ground / But Mr. Belafonte wanna chop a n*gg$ down”
What about the clean water for Africa project for which he was awarded a UN Global Leadership Award for Humanitarianism? What about the seven figures he gave to Katrina victims, or the song he recorded as part of his support of Haiti, or the millions of dollars in educational support he’s given as part of the Shaun Carter Foundation. I could go on, but you get the point, a simple Google search from any of you humanitarians would have shown that Jay-Z has done anything but turn his back on his people. In fact the opposite is true, he's made good on his promise from “Moment of Clarity”:
“I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them / So I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the win win”.
It seems as if Mr. Belafonte doesn't really know Jay-Z, and didn’t make an effort to get to know him. He has no idea what Jay-Z has done or what his plans for the future are (after all, he’s got 43 more years to go before he’s as old as Belafonte).
Can’t you guys see how infuriating it is when someone accuses you of something that is the very opposite of what you are about? Or are you all so anxious to jump on your soap boxes that you buy into the stereotype that every successful rapper must be some sort of new money idiot who doesn’t know any better than to brag about his phat gold ropes? Is it really so enticing to lump Jay-Z in with the 2 Chainz and Chief Keefs of the world? Too bad those tap dancing Negroes can’t be more like The Boss right?
Whatever, it doesn’t matter what you think. Jay-Z gave me Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album and American Gangster and Picasso Baby. As far as I’m concerned, that’s plenty.