Jay-Z’s Got 99% Problems, and a Barclays Center Protest Is One
Jay-Z has drawn the ire of Occupiers yet again, this time over quotes he dropped in his Zadie Smith-penned The New York Times T Magazine profile. This isn’t the first time Jay-Z and Occupy have feuded. Last November, Jay-Z pissed off the Zuccotti Park set by selling Occupy Wall Street knock-off shirts without donating any profits to the movement. OWS called the rapper a “bloodsucker,” but Jay-Z emerged from the spat mostly unscathed.
After all, Occupiers were too busy trying to not get kicked out of their campsite to focus on Jay-Z too much. But this time, the 99 percenters have a more targeted plan of attack for shaming the rap mogul. They’re taking their beef to Jay-Z’s big opening-night concert at the Barclays Center, turf he partially owns.
Jay-Z has always seemed somewhat supportive of the Occupy movement in theory, but he questions its goals and rhetoric. “What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for?” Jay-Z asks in the quotes that reignited the feud. “I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?” As a firmly-established member of the 1 percent, Jay-Z is most bothered by Occupy’s demonization of everyone in the top-tier. “Yeah, the 1 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. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”
Occupy-affiliated group Guitarmy took to Tumblr to set Jay-Z straight about what they’re working towards. They write, “We have spent one year on the streets organizing for exactly the things Jay rapped about in his early days, ending urban poverty, ending Stop & Frisk and police use of lethal force, of returning dignity and hope to the everyday people of New York City.” Guitarmy plans to make sure Jay-Z gets the message by protesting his grand opening concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sept. 28th. It’s is a particularly sensitive site for Jay-Z, who holds partial ownership of both the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball team that will call it home. As New York magazine’s Will Leitch noted recently, the center is already pretty unpopular. With an Occupy Guitarmy concert and teach-in scheduled to disrupt its big opening night, the Barclays Center’s image will only be tarnished even further.
Occupy aren’t the only ones giving Hova trouble over his statements. Russell Simmons remonstrated him on Twitter:
Journalist Tim Pool called Jay-Z a hypocrite, referencing Rocawear’s OWS t-shirt appropriation:
And lots of people, including Guitarmy, are giving Jay-Z flak for calling OWS “un-American,” which really isn’t fair. In aggregating Zadie Smith’s profile, the New York Daily News deployed the u-word in a set-up to one of his quotes. In aggregating the NYDN‘s aggregation, Breitbart and The National Review pushed “Un-American” into their headlines. One little problem: Jay-Z never uttered the word “un-American,” and to put it in his mouth is quite the stretch.
Whatever Jay-Z actually said has gotten lost in the shuffle at this point. Even though the quotes in question portray him as little more than an Occupy skeptic, the narrative that he’s virulently anti-OWS is already being cemented. He and all other parties invested in the Barclays Center better brace for an occupation.