Jay Z usually reserves his social commentary and opinions for his rhymes, but in a new interview with The Truth’s Elliott Wilson Hov weighs in on everything from Trayvon Martin to the best new rappers in the game.
During the interview, conducted at Yankees Stadium and posted on Life + Times, one of the most surprising comments came as Jay responded to being criticized by Hollywood legend Harry Belafonte, who says that he and Beyonce have turned their back on social responsibility and giving back.
Read the highlights of the interview below. And watch the one-hour sit-down beneath.
On being called out by Harry Belafonte:
“I’m offended by that because first of all, this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am, [is charity], just like Obama is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, that hope that he provides for a nation and outside of America is enough. Just being who he is. You’re the first black president. If he speaks on any issue or anything, he should be left alone. […] Of course we want to challenge [Obama] to do better, but I felt like Belafonte just went about it wrong. The way he did it, within the media, and then he bigged up Bruce Springsteen. It was like, ‘Whoa, you just sent the wrong message all around. You just bigged up the white guy against me in the white media.’ I’m not saying that in a racial way. I’m saying what it was just the wrong way to go about it. […] My presence is charity! Just this guy who came from Marcy projects apartment 530C, to these places of me playing in Yankee stadium tonight.”
On the George Zimmerman verdict:
“I was really angry, I didn’t sleep for two days. I was really angry about it. We all knew there was still a bit of racism in America but for it to be so blatant… Ask yourself the question, ‘Didn’t Travyon have a right to stand his ground?’ He was being chased, he fought back. He may have won. That doesn’t mean he’s a criminal. He won. If you chase me and you try to attack me and I defend myself, how can I be in the wrong? How is that right? This guy went to get some skittles and go back to watch the All-Star game. He had plans. He had no intentions of robbing anyone’s home. […] It’s a thing where it’s like a reminder of, ‘We still got a long way to go.’ It’s beautiful because this generation right now, they don’t see color in that way. […] They’re funding George Zimmerman because they want to hold on to their guns. […] We all know it was wrong.”
On the new legion of rappers:
“I’m doing all of this stuff for the next generation to come in and take advantage of it. So, whatever took me 15 years to accomplish, it takes them 5 years to accomplish. It encourages me when I see this young crop of next new legends. I’m ecstatic. I’m willing to help, I’m like, ‘What do you need?’ I’m offering help in anyway. I’m constantly opening doors for that next generation to come in. I feel good about it. I’m happy because there was a point when I was like, ‘What’s gonna happen next?’ A couple years ago, there wasn’t no Kendricks, Coles and Drakes. It was like wait a minute, ‘Where is this about to go?’ After we finish our tour of duty, who is going to pick up the manual and take it further.”
On Drake eyeing the “Throne”:
“Drake, we have a great relationship. I know he feels like, ‘I’m the next one, I’m right here,’ we hear the lines, ‘feelin’ like the throne is for the takin, watch me take it..’ you know he’s feeling it. It’s cool, it wasn’t meant with malice or disrespect, it’s just like ‘I’m comin, acknowledge my existence.’ There is a respect thing but there is also a competitive thing and its been done the right way. He’s definitely the one that’s reared his head as the guy. He’s definitely Kobe Bryant.”