Jay-Z Responds To Criticism That His Lyrics Are Anti-Semitic, Perpetuating A Jewish Stereotype

The Anti-Defamation League is objecting to some of Jay-Z’s rap lyrics, but he is standing firm and saying he was rapping about an observation. Jay-Z, who seems to have his hands full lately with squabbles and disagreements with the likes of Kanye West is saying that he meant no disrespect to the Jewish community. The ADL is taking issue with the Jay-Z track “The Story of O.J.” on his latest album 4:44.

The lyrics that have caught the eye of the ADL are as follows:

“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 is how they did it.”

The Anti-Defamation League says that it does not believe that it is Jay-Z’s intention to spread anti-Semitism, but they did think that it promoted a negative stereotype. The ADL released a statement that explained why they found the lyrics in the song to be so problematic.

“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.”

But Jay-Z addressed this topic on a recent episode of the Podcast “Rap Radar” saying that many of his lyrics are exaggerated and that it doesn’t mean anything.

“It’s hard for me to take that serious [sic] because I’ve exaggerated every black image in the world. 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 [in the ‘Story of O.J.’ music video], if you don’t have a problem with that, and that’s the only line you pick out, then you are being a hypocrite.”

Jay-z says that obviously, he doesn’t think that Jewish people own all of the property in America.

“It was an exaggeration.”

And it’s true that Jay-Z has made every effort to speak out against anti-Semitism publicly. Back in 2006, Jay-Z did a PSA for the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding with Russell Simmons.

“What’s not cool is anti-Semitism. It’s a long word for racism. Anti-Semitism and racism are the same thing. Don’t be silent, remember: We are one, one voice.”

Jay-Z felt that it was important to use his celebrity to speak out about the evils of all kinds of racism including anti-Semitism. For this reason, Russell Simmons and talent manager Guy Oseary (who happens to be Jewish) have come out to defend Jay-Z. In an Instagram post, Oseary said he thought that Jay-Z was saying that Jews could be a model for the black community.

“He’s attempting to use the Jewish people in an exaggerated way to showcase a community of people that are thought to have made wise business decisions.”

Oseary said he perceived it as a compliment, saying that if a certain community has made wise financial decisions and achieved independence, that’s a good thing.

“I’m not offended by these lyrics.”


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Jay-Z added jokingly that obviously, Jews don’t own all of the property in the world because he owns some of it.

Do you think the Jay-Z was saying something anti-Semitic or was he paying the Jewish community a compliment?

[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]