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Why Talk More About Jay-Z's Cuba Trip Than Rick Ross' Date Rape Rap?

Having solved all the country's economic problems, come to an agreement on DOMA, and figured out what to do about gun control, the American government finally has time to focus on what really matters: where richer-than-God superstars Jay-Z and Beyoncé spend their obscenely luxurious vacations.

More: Treasury department confirms Jay-Z, Beyoncé's trip to Cuba was authorized.

Much like (I'm assuming) all of you, I haven't intimately studied the history of White House press conferences, but I have to imagine that the number of times that middle-aged white ladies in biz-cas have quoted HOVA at these things is pretty limited. But an excruciating seventy-nine seconds was wasted spent discussing "Open Letter," Jay-Z's rebuttal to criticism over his and B's visit to Cuba.

Perhaps most problematic here is Jay Carney's droll assertion that nothing rhymes with treasury (It's true! Check a rhyming dictionary!), when really he should've been complaining about Swizz Beatz's ubiquitous and tiresome Goddamn it! and Oh!s in what is an otherwise enjoyable jam. And anyway, Jay-Z already told you he was smoking Cubanos with Castro in cabanas. Given that he actually does pretty much everything he says he's going to do, this should've tipped off the treasury, right?

Whether or not the song is any good (which it mostly is) seems almost beside the point. It's a late-career one-off from a guy who has pretty much nothing left to prove. The line that seems to have gotten the most press -- his boast that he's the Bob Dylan of rap -- seems a bit meh to me. Not only because there's no one to disagree with him except some fusty old hippies, rendering the line far from incendiary, but because it almost seems more interesting and accurate to refer to Bob Dylan as the Jay-Z of folk-rock.

More pressing than the song or all of the hullaballoo that surrounds it is the fact that Jay and Beyoncé's vacation got way more press coverage than the far-more-pressing issue of Rick Ross' implied date rape rap.

 

Ross has since (thankfully) apologized. But this seems to speak less to Jay-Z/Beyoncé's star power (even if Rick Ross is, like, the Donovan of rap) than it does to our reluctance to engage in meaningful dialog about things that are actually issues in rap music--the treatment of women, the violence implicit in that, the disturbed sense of sexual entitlement evident in more than one verse, one song, one record.

Not that Ross' offending "UOENO" verse was going to solve any of that, exactly, but to have spent more time on rape culture's relationship with hip-hop might've at least opened a discussion too infrequently held, rather than worrying about a government-sanctioned trip by two folks who weren't up to anything nefarious anyway.

Read More: Like Rick Ross, these product-endorsers have also said vile things.

While we wait for that question to get a more serious tabling, we'll anxiously await the rebuttal-to-the-rebuttal, when Jay proves a White House press secretary wrong and rhymes something with "treasury." If anyone can do it . . .


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