Hip hop legend Jay-Z has attempted to counter claims that lyrics on his latest album are antisemitic by insisting he had deliberately exaggerated the alleged scale of Jewish property ownership in order to address the issue of sterotypes.
The rapper faced criticism from some Jewish groups following the release of the track The Story Of OJ which include the line: “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?” - on his new 4.44 album.
The Anti-Defamation League in America expressed concern that the lyric “could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance”.
But in a new interview Jay-Z insisted:“It’s hard for me to take that serious, because I exaggerated every black image in the world.”
The star said the lyric referring to Jews and property was an “exaggeration” as well.
Talking to the Rap Radar online channel, he said : “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.
“In the context of the song, I’m trying say, you guys did it right!”
The rapper also urged his Jewish critics to accept that the video accompanying the track clearly dealt with stereotypes of black people, saying :” 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.”
According to the song biography included with the album, which was released in June, The Story of OJ is “really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward.
“We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists, especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”
Jay Z has spoken out against racism and antisemitism in the past and appeared alongside Def Jam records founder Russell Simmons in a video in which it was stated:”Racism and antimitism are the same thing.”
The song contains language that some readers may find offensive: