After Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba drew the ire of Senator Marco Rubio, so that people would stop talking about his positions on gun control and water, the rapper has been forced to spend much of the past week proving to everyone that he’s an American. First came Jay-Z announcing he planned to sell off his share of the Brooklyn Nets so he could branch out into running a sports agency—a decision steeped in the entrepreneurship and not giving a shit about people’s feelings that is the backbone of American business. Then came the lineup announcement for the second year of his Budweiser-sponsored Made In America festival in Philadelphia, with a Jay-Z-approved roster of artists like Beyoncé, Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, Phoenix, Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar, Deadmau5, and Miguel—a roster that reflects the thrilling variety of music Americans can pay to listen to, as well as the fact that Jay-Z is married to Beyoncé.
But today comes Jay-Z’s most direct rejoinder yet in the form of “Open Letter,” a timely song that addresses head-on some of the criticisms he’s endured of late, because you can’t sell press releases on iTunes. Calling himself “the Bob Dylan of rap music,” Jay-Z proceeds to evoke Dylan’s deeply symbolic, politically charged imagery with lines like, “Obama said, ‘Chill, you gonna get me impeached’ / But you don’t need this shit anyway / Chill with me on the beach’.” Similarly chill about proper segues, he then transitions abruptly to the Nets controversy, saying, “Would’ve brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free / Except I made millions off of you fuckin’ dweebs.” And indeed, what’s more American than profiting from while simultaneously openly despising the nation’s dweebs?
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