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Anti-Defamation League Criticizes Jay-Z Over ‘Story of O.J.’ Lyrics

Variety logo Variety 7/6/2017 Rebecca Rubin
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Jay-Z’s recently released album “4:44” has once again stirred up controversy.

The Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-government organization, condemned lyrics off the artist’s new album for what it says are anti-Semitic implications.

In “The Story of O.J.” he raps, “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit/ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”

The track quickly sparked debate about whether or not Jay-Z was promoting harmful stereotypes.

“We do not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism,” a rep for the ADL told Rolling Stone. “On the contrary, we know that Jay-Z is someone who has used his celebrity in the past to speak out responsibly and forcefully against the evils of racism and anti-Semitism.

Still, the group said his lyrics perpetuate negative biases. “The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money. The idea that Jews ‘own all the property’ in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance.”

Guy Oseary, who is Jewish, was born in Israel, and is a manager for Madonna, U2, and Amy Schumer recently spoke out about the song and argued the lyrics, in context, are not anti-Semitic.

“If you listen to the song in its entirety you will hear that the whole of the song is based on exaggerated stereotypes to make a point,” he wrote on Instagram, adding, “I’m not offended by these lyrics. I hear them the way he intended them to be heard.”

Russell Simmons also defended the track earlier this week. “The fact is this culture that promotes good business and financial well-being is and has been a guiding light to the black and specifically the hip-hop community,” he tweeted.

Since releasing his album June 30, Jay-Z has received significant praise and criticism. Rapper 50 Cent recently slammed the project in a now-deleted Instagram video, saying, “Some of that s— was like golf course music.” “4:44” still gained platinum status in less than a week.

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