Jay-Z vs. The 99 Percent: True American or Greedy Terrorist?
He may have come from the bottom of bottom to the Top of the Pops. But the hustler named Shawn Carter doesn't back blind classicism for the sake of tax-bracket rage, son.
Jay-Z has a nasty history with the 99 percent and the flash-in-the-pan media frenzy that is Occupy Wall Street. But just when you thought no one would ever mention it again, Jay's back in the ring, pissing people off and stoking the debate.
But what's the deal? Aren't these hustlers just happy to see one of them make it? Let's take a closer look at the controversy.
It all started back in November when Jay and his company Rocawear put out a t-shirt bearing the Occupy Wall Street name tagged out to read "Occupy All Streets." The buzz-worthy protest swag sold for $22, not including shipping and taxes. But the brand caught heat when people noticed no proceeds were going to the movement.
The Roc Nation stood tall, promising that its intentions were good and honorable. In a statement to Business Insider, Rocawear professed support for "all forms of constructive expression."
Def Jam co-founder and Jay-Z buddy Russel Simmons came to the rescue, defending his partner and trying to explain The Throne's reasoning.
"What's wrong with selling goodness? There's nothing wrong with it," Simmons told Billboard. "You should sell things you're happy about. You should sell products that you're inspired by, that promote lasting and stable well-being. Give the world something or sell the world something that you're proud of. Jay-Z didn't make a t-shirt [that said] 'F--- the Bums on the Street.' He wrote a t-shirt, 'Occupy All Streets.' I'm happy, it furthers the movement, it inspires the movement."
But that wasn't enough to quell the angry masses. Pop-culture enthusiast and artist Daniel Edwards was inspired by the controversy and sculpted a totem called "Mogul," placing Jay at the bottom of the pole beneath Mr. Burns, Scrooge McDuck, and Richie Rich.
Only a few days after the shirts began catching flack, they were removed from the Rocawear market. And a few months later, people kind of stopped paying attention to the protests at all. Meanwhile, Jay continues to be famous.
But hold on a minute ... Now the man is raising eyebrows again, telling the New York Times that he never supported the movement, not even in a hey-let's-raise-awareness-and-make-money sort of way. And why not? Because they were terrible at organizing.
"I think all those things need to really declare themselves a bit more clearly because when you just say that 'the one percent is that,' that's not true," he said. "Yeah, the one percent that's robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that's criminal, that's bad."
Many are calling foul, branding Jay a hypocrite or a money-grubbing scoundrel. But c'mon now, America. You know Jay's story, you've bought the albums. Jay isn't a businessman, he's a business, man. Let him handle his business. Damn.
"This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on," he said.
But, is he right?
Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL