As we reported yesterday, wealthy rapper Jay-Z took a swipe at the Occupy Wall Street movement — saying he didn’t really understand the protests but that he believed they involved some sort of distaste for wealth in general, and that the protestors had failed to successfully articulate the thrust of their grievances.
Jay-Z and fellow rap legend, producer Russell Simmons, appear to not see eye-to-eye when it comes to Occupy Wall Street, and Simmons has struck out at Hova, albeit politely, in a response published on his site Global Grind.
In it, Simmons manages to make a case in his calm and positive way that promotes the Occupy movement — often mischaracterized as envious and populated by jealous poor people, neither of which seems to describe Simmons — without making Jay-Z look dumb for not getting what exactly people are so mad about.
Russell Simmons acknowledges that Jay-Z did not claim to know what the movement is about, but encourages the rapper to be mindful, as his words have the power to advance the movement, or perhaps denigrate it. Simmons begins, saying in a few minutes, he’d be able to convince Hova that Occupy makes sense:
“If [Jay-Z] understood it and endorsed the movement, it would make a big difference to poor people. As the same man that said he would pay more taxes if it helped educate more children and create affordable healthcare, Jay-Z’s words matter. He was honest enough to say that he didn’t understand it. A lot of Americans don’t. He was also honest enough to recognize that there are some in the 1 percent who ‘deceiving’ and ‘robbing,’ so I know in his heart he gets it. I know he is a compassionate person who cares about the poor, so I’m certain if I had two more minutes with him, I could change his mind.”
Simmons acknowledges that to those on the outside, Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy offshoots around the country may seem disjointed, but the hip-hop mogul weaves a common thread through the many issues and explains that a populace under-served by their elected officials birthed the movement:
“I listened to the young people talk about their 99 problems. The 99 percent. Healthcare reform. Prison industrial complex. The war machine. Bad schools. Lack of access to affordable higher education. Genetically modified food. Gay rights. Immigration reform. Crumbling housing projects. Climate change. Everyday, there was a new protester with a new sign, fighting for the rights of the under-served. There was never an official agenda or media-friendly talking points. Zuccotti Park and the Occupy camps that sprung up around the country were places for any and every person to come and share ideas about how to better perfect our union. Our democracy.”
Simmons also points to a theme echoed at the DNC in mentions of “slamming the door” of opportunity behind successful folk, saying that while he and Jay managed to rise to success, many more will be unable to transcend poverty due to a system stacked against them:
“So, Jay, here’s the deal. You’re rich and I’m rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them.”
Russell signed his missive to Jay-Z “Your Friend, Russell Simmons,” and you can read it in its entirety over at Global Grind.