The Anti-Defamation League has taken issue with some of the lyrics on Jay-Z’s new 4:44 album. The song, The Story Of O.J. specifically.
On 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.”
“We do not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism,” a rep for the ADL stated. “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.”
They still have a problem with the lyrics however.
“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.”
Madonna and U2’s Jewish manager Guy Oseary has spoke out in defense of Jay-Z. He said that taken out of context it could come across as anti-Semitic but he noted that the rapper often uses exaggerated stereotypes in his music.
“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. As an example of what is possible and achievable … 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 took to Twitter to defend Jay-Z as well, saying, “Mischief makers would like to take Jay’s statements about the culture and practices that exist within some parts of the Jewish community (notice I say some). 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.”