NEWS: A month after being criticized by Russell Simmons for his careless comments and utter disregard for the Occupy Wall Street movement in his interview with Zadie Smith for September’s issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Jay-Z is now receiving criticism from Cornel West. Ironically, the activist, author, and professor of African American studies at Princeton has been arrested numerous times in the past year for taking part in mass rallies in connection with the Occupy Wall Street movement protest and the New York Police Department’s “Stop and Frisk” policies.
During a recent speaking engagement, West acknowledged that he maintains a friendship with Jay-Z but urged the co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets to admit his minimal stake in the basketball team.
“Jay-Z came from the Marcy projects, but look at him now,” said West during his speech that aired on JoyDailyTV.com. “He owns the whole – no, he owns one-fifteenth of one percent of the whole stadium. Let’s get it right, now. They got a Russian gangster who owns 80 percent… Now I love Jay-Z, I’ve spent much time with the brother. He’s a lyrical genius. But we’ve got to tell him the truth. Tell the truth, Jay-Z. You tell the truth on Reasonable Doubt in 1996, that’s what he started out with. He’s telling the truth, we love you negro. But we gon’ make sure you’re accountable too. All of us in this together, and I’m saying it out of love.”
THE TRUTH: After TheLaunchMagazine.com interviewed David Halbfinger of The New York Times in August, the veteran journalist revealed Jay-Z’s stake in the Brooklyn Nets to be one-fifteenth of one percent. The article apparently irked Jay-Z as he later lashed out at TheLaunchMagazine.com and The New York Times during his recent performance at the Barclays Center.
“Guys like Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco rap messages and have something to say,” said West to The Spectrum, the University at Buffalo’s student newspaper. “Now Jay-Z is on the radio and he’s talented, but he’s just not at the level he used to be at on Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. The genius is still there, but there’s no more motivation.”
Those comments didn’t seem to bother the rap mogul as West later hosted a debate with Jay-Z and Paul Holdengräber to promote his “Decoded” memoir. The conversation about his life and rhymes took place at the New York Public Library on November 15, 2010 and appeared to be more than cordial as the two exchanged laughs and handshakes during the discussion.
Criticizing celebrity figures is nothing new to West. Ever since Barack Obama took office in 2008, West has thrown verbal jabs at the President including calling him “the black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs” and the “head of the American killing machine,” while still maintaining that Obama is his “brother.” When West was questioned about this last year by The New York Times he defended his harsh comments.
“Poor people and working people have not been a fundamental focus of the Obama administration,” said West. “That for me is not just a disappointment but a kind of betrayal.”