Like wife Beyonce, Jay-Z often addresses public scandals in new music rather than in the press. On his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” he talks about the backlash against his daughter, Blue Ivy, his beef with Lil Wayne and more. One of the more glaring situations he addresses is his conflict with Harry Belafonte.
In August of 2012, Harry Belafonte went on record criticizing Jay-Z and Beyonce’s lack of social responsibility. He said to The Hollywood Reporter:
“I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”
The quote received a lot of attention, prompting Beyonce to respond in The Wall Street Journal with a short list of all the “unselfish” work she’s done. Jay-Z remained mum until now.
On a new track, “Nickles and Dimes,” he says:
“I’m just trying to find common ground/ ‘Fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a n*gga down/ Mr. Day O, major fail/ Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now/ Hublot homie two door homie/ You don’t know all the sh*t I do for the homies.”
Read the full lyrics here.
It could be argued that both Belafonte and Jay-Z hit below the belt, but some felt Jay-Z went too far in his disrespect of the actor and social activist.
Single Black Male writes:
“The other thing that jumps out about this verse is how abrasive Jay is with Mr. Belafonte. Harry Belafonte is 86-years-old. At this point in his life, there shouldn’t be anything at all the aging gentleman could say that should warrant someone 40 years his junior rapping profanities in his direction. It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong, it’s about respecting your elders. […] Age aside – this is Harry Belafonte we’re talking about. This is a man who’s spent his entire life dedicated to causes of freedom, human equality and social justice. Calling him Mr. Day-O, a mocking allusion to his biggest hit “Banana Boat Song,” is wrong, calling him “boy” while urging him to respect you because it’s “our time now,” is dead wrong.”
There’s also the fact that racist white men often referred to black males as “boy” regardless of their age as a way to disrespect them and insult their masculinity. “Boy” is a weighted term for an older black man, and I’m sure Jay-Z is well aware of its significance.
What do you think, Clutchettes? Did Jay-Z go too far?