The backlash continues over an allegedly anti-Semitic lyric on JAY-Z’s new album 4:44. The controversial line appears on the project’s second track, “The Story of O.J.,” where JAY-Z 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.”
In a statement issued Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the song’s lyrics. “The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money,” a representative for the organization told Rolling Stone. “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 the ADL stopped short of labeling JAY-Z as anti-Semitic. “We do not believe it was JAY-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism,” the representative said. “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.”
Some have defended JAY-Z’s lyric. Guy Oseary, who manages Madonna and U2, said on Monday that on “The Story of O.J.” the rapper used “exaggerated stereotypes to make a point.” He added that “Jay knows” his assertion about Jews is untrue and noted that, “in [his] opinion, Jay is giving the Jewish community a compliment.”
Since it dropped on June 30, 4:44 has already notched platinum status.