Jay-Z has never been shy about his hustle. He is, after all, the rapper who once boasted that he’s a “business… man.” But comments Jigga made during a Twitter Spaces chat with Genius’ Rob Markman on Wednesday (August 31) about those who disparage the art of the deal by making the word “capitalist” a slur have raised some eyebrows.
Asked to talk about his track record of helping elevate other billionaire Black entertainers such as Rihanna and Kanye West, Jay said, “We not gone stop. Hip-hop is young. It’s still growing. We not falling for that tricknology the public puts out there now. Before it was the American dream. ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You can make it in America,’” said the 52-year-old entrepreneur who went from a living in a tiny, overcrowded home in the Marcy Houses project in Brooklyn to being named the first hip-hop billionaire in 2019.
But it was his next comment that drew a raft or responses on Twitter. “All these lies that America told us our whole life and then when we start getting it, they try to lock us out of it,” he said. “They start inventing words like ‘capitalist.’ We’ve been called ‘n—ers’ and ‘monkeys’ and s–t. I don’t care what words y’all come up with. Y’all gotta come with stronger words.”
Talking about his “evolution” from a young guy selling CDs on New York street-corners and having no radio play to being one of the richest men in music, Jay said nobody should be made to “feel ashamed to be successful in a place that set up a system for us to be dead at 21… Y’all locked us out. Y’all created a system that, you know, doesn’t include us. We said fine. We went our alternate route. We created this music. We did our thing, you know, we hustle, we f—ing killed ourselves to get to this space. And, you know, now it’s like, you know, you know, ‘Eat the rich,’ and, man, we’re not stopping.”
While Jay’s evolution has surely inspired many others to reach higher and harder and, like he said, “not be ashamed” of their success, some of the reaction to his comments about capitalism being a bad word were equally pointed. “You make millions of dollars in America you’re a capitalist. Jay-Z too old to not know this, in the raps talking about buying paintings, properties and reselling them and making investments, this is literally what a capitalist does,” read one response on Twitter.
Another tweet read, “No, Jay-Z, we didn’t make up the word capitalist to make you feel guilty. We say capitalist to describe who owns capital and exploits our labor to get it. It’s not guilt we want you to feel. It’s fear. We’re coming to expropriate what’s ours so we can build a socialist world.”