Jay-Z defends Dave Chappelle amid transphobic controversy

Recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jay-Z reportedly had some comments about the Netflix comedy special of his inductor.

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Legendary rapper Jay-Z, who was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, had some comments on the controversial comedy special of his inductor, Dave Chappelle

The emcee-mogul was part of a recent Twitter Spaces conversation with the creators and stars of the new Netflix western, The Harder They Fall, for which he is one of the executive producers. Jay-Z, who does very little press, was asked about several hot button topics, including Chappelle. 

Dave Chappelle (left) and Jay-Z (right) are shown during the 36th annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony on Oct. 30 in Cleveland, Ohio, where the comic inducted the rap icon. (Photos: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

“If you spend time with him, he’s brilliant,” Jay-Z said, according to a new Buzzfeed report, asserting that The Closer “pushed a lot of buttons” — and that even he found the special challenging to watch in places. 

“But I think that what happens with true art is it has to cause conversation,” he contended. “And, you know, sometimes it’s gonna be abrasive, and sometimes it’s gonna be off-putting to folks. But it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue about, you know, whatever the issue is.”

Jay-Z noted that “great art” is “divisive,” adding, “When you’re making great art, you have to be fearless and you have to create something that you believe in. And that’s what it’s about.”

The Closer, the reported last of a Chappelle Netflix anthology, was released in October and has been described as transphobic, homophobic and misogynistic. Employees of Netflix protested the special with a trans solidarity walkout, and a pregnant Black employee was fired “for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company” related to its payout to Chappelle, officials said.

“We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix,” their statement read, “but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.”

In Chappelle’s speech to induct Jay-Z into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame late last month, the stand-up comic joked about an apology as he welcomed the crowd of celebrities and fans to Ohio, where he has a ranch in Yellow Springs. 

He called it “an incredible honor to induct this next man into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”

“I need everybody in rock and roll know that even though we are honoring him, he is ours. He is hip-hop,” he said of Jay-Z. “Forever and ever and a day.

While inducting Jay-Z, Chappelle spoke of the iconic rapper’s business acumen, but even more of his overall dedication to the craft and the culture.

“He will always remember us,” said Chappelle. “That we are his point of reference, that he is going to show us how far we can go if we just get hold of the opportunity. For this, we will always love him; we always treasure him.” 

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