Jay-Z Responds To Cuban Trip Controversy With New ‘Open Letter’ Song

There’s something about Jay-Z that makes me say to myself: You go guy!   Now, at my age, hip-hop is for the younger generations.  I admire Jay-Z for much more than his music or lyrics.

The point is, the man is a well heeled, independent thinker who, like all of us, may make mistakes from time to time, yet when he speaks out about the Cuba trip flap and other things, he’s basically saying: “You do you…and I’ll do me!”  I like that…


Rapper Jay-Z posted an “Open Letter” song to hisLife + Times blog this morning, responding the various controversies that have seemingly consumed his public life since traveling to Cuba for his fifth wedding anniversary with wifeBeyoncé.

The pair’s Cuba trip ignited a firestorm, with members of Congress launching an investigation into the legality of their vacation to the embargoed country. Ultimately, it turns out, the trip was authorized by the Department of Treasury.

Jay-Z addressed the controversy via song:

“Politicians never did shit for me/ Except lie to me, distort history/ They wanna give me jail time and a fine / Fine, let me commit a real crime / … / Obama said, ‘Chill, you’re going to get me impeached’ / You don’t need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach.”

He later took a swipe at the critics suggesting he’s a “communist sympathizer” for his Cuban trip, noting the irony that American policy shuns one communist regime while patronizing another:

“I’m in Cuba, I love Cubans / This communist talk is so confusing / When it’s from China, the very mic that I’m using.”

In addition to Cuba-gate, Jay-Z has also come under fire for selling his shares in the Brooklyn Nets franchise in order to expand his newly-created sports agency into professional basketball. In response to the haters who claim he is callously cashing in, Hova rapped:

“I woulda moved the Nets to Brooklyn for free / Except I made millions off you fucking dweebs / I still own the building, I’m keeping my seats / You buy that bullshit, you better keep your receipts.”

Listen to the song below, produced by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland:

Republicans Demand Investigation Into Beyonce’s Cuba Vacation

I have my issues with Cuban policy toward their dark skinned citizens, commonly known as Afro-Cubans.  I’m also suprised that Jay-Z and Beyonce’s advisors didn’t inform them about Cuba’s politics in general.  Yet, I wonder if Republicans are over re-acting…

Think Progress

Two Florida Republicans are prompting the Obama administration to open an investigation into Beyonce and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba, arguing that the couple may have violated sanctions against the communist country.

Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and her colleague Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Friday, calling for an investigation into whether any laws were broken during the celebrities’ trip:

We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.[…]

Cuba’s tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, U.S. dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.

Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda.

Beyonce and Jay-Z did recently travel to Cuba for their fifth anniversary, a move that has upset many in the Cuban-American community. Ros-Lehtinen in particular represents a large Cuban population, and has been a major factor in preventing lawmakers from lifting the fifty-year old embargo on Cuba, despite both international and domestic support for such a measure.

Travel from the United States to Cuba strictly for tourism purposes is currently illegal under the U.S. embargo, but the ban is frequently flouted. Americans who want to legally travel to Cuba can use “people-to-people licences,” visas that allow for education exchanges between the two countries. In their letter, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart question whether the Obama administration provided Mr. and Mrs. Carter with such licences and for what purpose.

Both Beyonce and Jay-Z have been outspoken in their support for Obama, making them easy targets for Republicans. The couple hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the Obama campaign in 2012, and both have performed for the President on numerous occasions.

Jay-Z’s gay marriage endorsement: More influential than Obama’s?

Discriminating against gays is "no different than discriminating against blacks," Jay-Z said this week. "It's discrimination, plain and simple."
Discriminating against gays is “no different than discriminating against blacks,” Jay-Z said this week. “It’s discrimination, plain and simple.” Photo: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

It’s no secret that the male-dominated Hip Hop community is notoriously homophobic.  I’m curious to see and hear the comments that will emerge  following Jay-Z’s endorsement of gay marriage…

The Week

The rap mogul with a history of anti-gay lyrics does a 180 — a turnaround that may prove more meaningful to black voters than the president’s years-long evolution

The president isn’t the only world-famous person whose stance on gay marriage has evolved. Hip-hop king Jay-Z also just publicly announced his support of same-sex marriage: “I’ve always thought [of] it as something that’s still holding the country back,” the rapper told CNN. “It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.” The remarks come as pundits weigh whether President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality will hurt him with black voters. Obama won 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, but only 39 percent of black voters support gay marriage,according to an April poll. Could a supremely influential rapper whose past lyrics have been tinged with homophobia have more of an impact on black voters than Obama?

Yes. This is a huge deal: Jay-Z’s endorsement is “as big a cultural step forward as the leader of the free world making the same claim,” says Clinton Yates at The Washington Post. Jay-Z isn’t a politician, and he’s not supporting gay-marriage to get re-elected — it’s because he feels it’s right. Jay-Z is a leader in the massively influential hip-hop community, and this could “lead generations of music fans out of the fog,” changing their attitudes toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage.

“Jay-Z supports President Obama on gay marriage”

And it’s much more drastic than Obama’s evolution: Jay-Z’s remarks represent a 180-turn from the homophobic and even gay-hating lyrics of his past songs, says Marc Hogan at Spin. On 2001’s “Takeover,” for example, he called rival rapper Nas a “fag model” after Nas insinuated that Jay was homosexual. If the president’s gradual evolution failed to change minds in the African-American community, then perhaps Jay’s dramatic turnaround (the rapper is called “the hood’s Barack”) will lead to some true soul-searching.

“Jay-Z backs Barack Obama’s gay marriage endorsement”

But Obama’s stance isn’t hurting him with black voters:The conventional wisdom was that “black voters will freak” when Obama backed same-sex marriage, says John Aravosis at The Daily Beast. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, they “gave a collective shrug.” A new Pew Research Poll reveals that 68 percent of African-Americans say Obama’s embrace of gay marriage didn’t change their opinion of him, even if they disagreed with the stance, while 16 percent said it actually made them view Obamamore favorably. And for other voters disillusioned with Obama, the move showed courage that will bring the president “closer to winning in November.”

“Why gays did President Obama a favor by pushing him on gay marriage”