Some Food for Thought on this Jay Z/ Harry Belafonte Thang

jayz glassesAbout this Jay Z / Harry Belafonte thing..One of the ways people look at this scenario is by noting that if the community supports a celebratory/ entertainer, that celebratory/ entertainer should ideally support the community… Hence when Jay Z remarked that his presence is charity feel like it’s a lopsided equation because in reality our collective presence in the form of concert tickets, albums sales and clothing purchases is what puts Jigga on the social and financial map.

The other thing we should not forget, that the Black community is still for the most part a trendsetter and validator of trends.. Meaning that sales of Roc-A-Wear or the sale of Jay-Z the artist would’ve gone no where in the world of cross over if Black folks didn’t co-sign Jay Z when nobody was checking for him..

This applies to a whole lot of businesses and so in looking at this from a wider lens we should ideally understand our true value from top to bottom in the marketplace. In short lots of institutions are eating off what we as Black people create, make popular, remix & rework etc..

So while its important that an artist like Jay-Z give back to the community, we should also note that the institutions that he was on Def Jam/ Universal ..Live Nation etc should also be supporting the community as well. Whatever Jay Z makes pales in comparison to the money some of these outlets made off a Jay and by default us..

Now of course we know that corporations are not about the business of helping folks they exploit get free of their grips..But one should push, demand, kick up dust anyway while always keeping in the forefront of our minds the worth we bring to the table..

The name of the game for corporations is to make it seem like they did us a favor..Long before Jigga uttered those words about his presence being charity, major corporations have not only made that same claim, but took it a step further by insisting you pay them for the honor, which many of us have gladly done..If you don’t believe me look at all the labels we flaunt .. Look at all the brands we highlight..From Cristal to Nike to Tom Ford whose name and brand was made into an anthem on Jay Z’s latest album..

Ideally we should return to the days where we stop name checking institutions and companies who bank off us for billions and never give back..I yearn for the days when we made our own labels and brands that we stuck on clothes and big upped in songs..

Also while we ask Jay-Z to do more, let that burden not be his alone, lets find ways for us all to do more.. Maybe its money, maybe its time that we give.. maybe its us opening doors and supporting those who do the hard work.. There is no one way and there should be no limit.. What we should be striving for is investing back into ourselves and the community with the goal of establishing long-term wealth and long-lasting institutions.

So is Jay Z’s presence charity? I’m not sure.. But if he wants to look at things from that lens, then we can be sure of this: over the past 17 years, my presence has meant a few dollars in Jay-Z’s pocket.. The air play I gave him was a few more dollars. The joints I played at nightclubs padded him up a little more.. The articles he was mentioned in good and bad was still some more dollars.. The Roc-A-Wear gear we purchased over the years was money still and I paid for a couple of concerts.. Multiply that by several million folks who have done the same or similar things and you get the picture..

I’m clear I made an investment in the ‘business’ called Jay-Z.. I made the investment in the dope dealer trying to go good..I showed up time and time again..Was the songs I got and the clothing I wore a good return on the investment?? Maybe.. Maybe not.. My point being is this is not a one way street.. I wasn’t ‘blessed by Hov..if anything, I along with millions of fans and the community at large, blessed him.. I sincerely hope him and Harry Belafonte have a sit down..Jay Z can do so much better.

Some food for thought..

Below is a historic panel discussion on the Civil Rights Movement.. This is the level of discourse, political awareness and involvement that today’s artists should ideally have…

17 comments on “Some Food for Thought on this Jay Z/ Harry Belafonte Thang

  1. I appreciate the inclusion of the iconic conversation over civil rights in the video above. The saddest part of today’s commentary of economic issue, in particular, by the hip hop world is the severe lack of knowledge of how today’s 21st century knowledge-based, tech-driven, globally competitive innovation economy actually works … and how little impact African Americans have upon it.

    This isn’t to diminish the point about the value we create, because that is salient, true and tremendous. But we fail to participate in that value to any substantive degree because of various reasons, not the least of which is our pathology that prevents us from working together, trusting one another, investing in one another or even fully and proactively supporting our president, who has taken historic and courageous steps to disrupt historical institutions and statutes designed as barriers to our entry into the realm of true beneficiaries of the American economy.

    Hip hop, with its celebrities and pro sports, with its heroes worshiped by youth, are two of the most ignorant landscapes of presumed knowledge on wealth creation and generational wealth and the 21st century economy that I know of. And the saddest part is neither of these two landscapes are willing to learn.

    Unfortunately,the top celebrities in America have as much (or more) influence than President Obama. And when I hear sad statements made by giant influencers like Jay Z and others, I am disheartened, especially knowing the overall sense of urgency with which we (not whites) must act to save this and the next generation from devolving into a permanent underclass in America during a time when technology is opening more doors of economic opportunity than any other time in history.

    It is sad that at this point in history, Black America is regressing. And hip hop is but one indicator of such regression and disconnect from the reality of today’s opportunity. Thanks for showing us the past juxtaposed with the present. .

  2. Jay Z ain’t s—…look at his nu album cover. The aggin crosses his own name out on his own CD. Anybody who graf know that is the worst thing to do is to slash somebody name. But this fool willing does it to himself? Talk about throwin away the hip hop rule book. Just a sucka azz aggin like the homie Spice 1 say… Stick to the REAL HIP HOP like Sunz Of Man, NMS (Big Juss and Orko), Lost Children Of Babylon, Esham, ICP, Necro, Psycho Realm, K Rino, SPC…you get the idea.

  3. His presence is not CHARITY.
    Time to check the ego.
    Charity is giving back without centering the recoginition on your own self.
    Once you get out of yourself ; you will experience a new freedom.


  4. It’s unfortunate that most of the responses in the larger media to Jay-Z’s statement have neglected to consider its context. In the interview, his respect for Belafonte is evident, and he seems as interested as anyone in having a conversation between his generation and the older generation of black figureheads, for lack of a better word. It’s not a surprise that he would feel attacked by Belafonte’s original statement, said as it was to the media rather than to the person himself. The original line is in a song discussing the thorny issues of how best to give back to the community from his standpoint as a wealthy celebrity. It’s no coincidence that this line has blown up without the surrounding context, of course, considering that it fills the standard narrative of his generation of black celebrities being only concerned with the self.

    The comments that Jay-Z has made have been distorted, as well. He’s just saying the obvious fact that his story (like Obama’s) is inspiring, in and of itself. He gives hope to people because of what he has already accomplished, given his circumstances. He’s certainly not saying that he shouldn’t be giving to charity; he specifically mentions his charitable giving. Sure, he’s making his point in a provocative way, but it seems fairly obvious that black celebrities exist as aspirational figures towards their fans in poverty.

    Hopefully, this opportunity for a genuine dialogue between two generations of successful black celebrities won’t be ignored in favor of this simple narrative of “rich rapper thinks he shouldn’t be socially responsible”.

  5. Ian,

    What has he accomplished ?
    I knew many millionaires who started with nothing ; and in the end they had nothing.
    Many who still have something ($$$$) ; but have nothing (soul).
    If all you have is money ; than your missing a lot.

    Jay Z is not what you think. I’ts called manufactured street cred. You package and sell it. That’s THE GAME. Unfortunately corporate America , only picks one out of a million for that position. He won the lottery. When he is done they will pick another lottery winner. Youngsters that is a misleading game….

    What he raps about really…he probably wouldn’t last long. I know because I had my pulse close to the street for 30 years…you never broadcast anything

  6. Ian,
    If you want your presence graced , why don’ you look at the original fathers of that genre of music ; who served as the backdrop for corporate music to pick Jay Z.

    To me, Harry B. has more soul.. because he has no agenda or a need to always pump himself up.


  7. I actually disagree when I bought a song are album I considered it as a consumer buying a product from a brand not as an investment into a brand so I don’t exspect anything in return

  8. Too many times people focus on the negative. This is a 20 minute interview taken out of context.

    Maybe Jay should list all of the charitable donations he has given in the past 10 years, so that shallow minded individuals can see he was only making a point…

  9. My questions why singled Jay Z and beyonce where are the other celebs P Diidy as far as I know the only musician wo made a lot of mula in the recent year is Dr Dre $110 million and he donated $70 Million dollars to the University of Southern California to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Did he donate t Technology and the Business of Innovation. And we praised him for doing so. But not everyone is happy about it.e money to a Black Community or to an institution that enrolls the very people who supported his career from the beginning? An institution where the majority of students are low-income? A place where $35 million would represent a truly transformational gift? Why didn’t Dr. Dre give it to a black college?

    The answer is black people are bitter they like to bring each other down. What have you i mean each one of you who is typing paragraphs on this blog what have doen to the community.

    I guess Harry want Beyonce and Jay Z to list or announce each time they contribute
    Mandela was in Jail for 20years but you dont see him preaching abt that at all

    I am glad I am White we dont stoop so low


    Name: Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

    Foundation: Shawn Carter Foundation

    He’s not just a businessman; he’s also a man of philanthropy. Since a decade ago, Jay-Z has pledged to give back to the community, not just in his back yard, but globally. In the past, he was known for going back to Marcy during the holiday season where he would donate toys to the community’s youth. He also would have a special scholarship fund for eligible high school students from the Marcy area.
    In 2006, He addressed the global water shortage by having a world tour with Bono and others. MTV documented the campaign in Africa where Jay-Z showed us the tragic water system in Africa.
    After Hurricane Katrina, Jay-Z along with Diddy pledged 1 million dollars to the American Red Cross relief effort. He has also teamed up with LeBron James for their 2 Kings charity dinner, utilizing their influence to bring power players together for one night to raise funds for philanthropy.
    Jay also founded the Shawn Carter Foundation where its main purpose is to give students a chance to gain a higher education who may not financially be able to. He provided a charity concert at Carnegie Hall for the foundation to raise funds for scholarships.
    “Sometimes, people just need the opportunity to be great. We created the scholarship foundation to be an opening of a door; the first step in a new direction. No one should be cheated out a chance at success just because they can’t continue their education. I want to do my part so anyone that really wants it has a chance to achieve their dream” states Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.
    The foundation is now accepting applicants 25 years of age and younger for a scholarship in a school they’ve been accepted to in September 2013. You can find more information on the application on

  10. Great discussion. I feel like Jay Z’s comment about his presence was pure ego… I get what he was trying to say, but damn… CHARITY, my dude?
    I think Harry Belafonte and African people of the great Diaspora need to come to the realization that its not the ’60s or ’70s anymore, meaning that artists and celebs don’t care that they have power and influence over their people. We’ve shifted into a “me and mine” community from “it takes a village to raise a child”.
    Black Celebs are more concerned with money, power and what they can do for themselves… More than those who put them where they are.

  11. Mr. innerth Sutchess tha partroix on West-Wrya soil in such ‘Disco’ glowes, he was well in hope and some easy coins – be apart on US-Barrack southern Bar Bavaria in German Tele-Propaganda…when some one feel interested into concepts of African-German music, like ‘Roberto Blanco’…Frank Duvall,…and Eddie Grant slaughter ‘Snap’….and have a look on India’s present Bad Land bii such postfascist EU ‘bad banks’ ideo logem…I feel well to reach such veterans…groove inb mind higher enlighten ‘street-so called Audith-Jazz….

  12. This is an excellent conversation. Jay Z’s remark about his presence struck me as pure vanity… I get what he was trying to express, however… MY DUDE, CHARITY?

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