JAY-Z Addresses Clashes With Kanye And Solange, Controversy Over His “Jewish People” Lyric

JAY-Z’s been unpacking his latest album 4:44 over the past few weeks on his TIDAL video series Footnotes. But if a tree falls in the forest and it’s a TIDAL exclusive, does it even make a sound? Hov doesn’t seem to care, and you can only listen to his first real interview since 4:44’s release if you are a TIDAL subscriber. Still, while speaking with Elliot Wilson from the Rap Radar Podcast, Jay unpacked a number of our most pressing curiosities from his highly personal thirteenth studio album.

Most notably, JAY-Z commented on the backlash he received for the lyric: “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.” Those lines from “The Story Of O.J.” received considerable blowback from a number of listeners, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, who released the following statement: “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.”

Jay’s response was that the song “exaggerated every black image in the world” and he meant for his representation of Jewish people to also be an exaggeration. “In the context of the song, I’m trying say, you guys did it right!” Jay said. Here’s more:

If even you, as the Jewish community, if you don’t have a problem with the exaggerations of the guy eating watermelon and all the things that was happening… If you don’t have a problem with that, and that’s the only line you pick out, then you are being a hypocrite. I can’t address that in a real way. I gotta leave that where it is.

It was exaggeration. Of course I know Jewish people don’t own all the property in the world. I mean, I own things! [laughs] It was an exaggeration, much like that racist cartoon.

He was also asked about whether or not he took shots at Kanye on the album, responding:

It’s not even about Kanye, it really isn’t… His name is there, just because it’s just the truth of what happened. But the whole point is “You got hurt because this person was talking about you on a stage.” But what really hurt me was, you can’t bring my kids and my wife into it. Kanye’s my little brother. He’s talked about me 100 times. He made a song called “Big Brother.” We’ve gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it, now it’s a problem with me. That’s a real, real problem. And he knows it’s a problem.

Jay continued to address his family and brought up the infamous elevator incident. “With Solange,” Jay said, “That’s my sister. Not my sister-in-law, no, my sister. Period.” He framed the event as a one-time thing, noting that, “We’ve always had a great relationship… We’ve had one disagreement. Before and after, we’ve been cool.” He then dismissed the narrative that the elevator feud is what resulted in each party releasing career highs in Lemonade, 4:44, and A Seat At The Table. “I think we went into that elevator great artists. That doesn’t surprise me.”

If you have TIDAL, you can listen to the whole interview here.