Why Critics Forcing Jay-Z to Pull Occupy Wall Street Inspired Shirts Is a Good Thing

15 Nov

Occupy my wallet please. Hova!

by Yvette Carnell

Talk about out of touch. I guess since the chief ingredient of Jay-Z’s success formula has always been dumbing it down for black youth, then commoditizing on a largely fictitious hood life, I shouldn’t be surprised at his attempt to co-opt Occupy Wall Street’s momentum. After all, this is what hip hop has become hasn’t it? A genre where artists with less than stellar lyrical skills spout outlandish nonsense and then capitalize on it? If you whip black kids into a frenzy about 24/7 alcohol and weed laced celebrations, instant gratification, or over the top materialism, you’re sure to get offered a clothing or liquor line, right?

Anyway, I’m sure Russell Simmons thought himself a marketing genius when he tweeted a picture of himself standing beside Jay-Z, who was wearing an “Occupy All Streets” (how clever) t-shirt. Simmons, who has been providing “spiritual” support (he dragged Kanye to OWS and did yoga in Zuccotti Park) for the movement has, I’m sure, been chomping at the bit for a way to merchandise the movement.  And if Jay-Z had agreed to throw a little cash in OWS’s direction, the little stupid shirts probably would’ve been a big hit. The problem, though, is that those at the pinnacle of hip hop eminence are no different than those at the pinnacle of most other capitalistic industries: They’re greedy.

After Russell Simmons tweeted the photo of Jay-Z in the t-shirt, Rocawear issued a statement saying that the company had not made a commitment to monetarily support the Occupy Wall Street movement. So wait, Jay-Z’s clothing company Rocawear was selling t-shirts for $22 that were based off the OWS movement, a movement which has at its core the idea that the one percent are hoarding wealth from the 99 percent, but Rocawear didn’t plan on giving any of the money made from the t-shirts back to the movement from which it stole the t-shirt idea?

Considering the fact that both Jay-Z and Russell Simmons are unhinged from the plight of the people who still live hip hop, I’m not surprised at their rush to commoditize the OWS movement. They may look like hip hop and sound like hip hop, but that’s because they’re master branders, not because they live hip hop or embrace the primordial spirit of the genre.

However, I’m sure both Jay and Russell are surprised that their hustle didn’t take this time. What they don’t get is the same thing that the Tea Party doesn’t get and the same that Wall Street doesn’t get and so on and so forth. No one begrudges any entrepreneur for putting in work and getting paid handsomely for their efforts. To the contrary, we love it. We’re inspired by it. What we find repugnant, however, is the way in which the one percent appropriates the human capital of 99 percent for personal gain.

The gossip site TMZ is reporting that it spoke to Occupy Wall Street leader Grim, who had this to say , “Jay-Z, as talented as he is, has the political sensibility of a hood rat and is a scrotum. To attempt to profit off of the first important social moment of 50 years with an overpriced piece of cotton is an insult to the fight for economic civil rights known as Occupy Wall Street.” Now that sounds like real hip-hop. Somebody should write a song about it.

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6 Responses to “Why Critics Forcing Jay-Z to Pull Occupy Wall Street Inspired Shirts Is a Good Thing”

  1. Destiny Adams November 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    It’s a shame in country where most children don’t know the fifty states and its capitals, nor their 1st amendment rights, that many can spew out every sond they hear on the radio. I have to say in the case of the 1 percent artists who haven’t said anything or profitted off the 99 percent – kudos. A money grubber is always a money grubber from the bottom to the top. Just because you pull a crab from the bucket doesn’t mean he grows wings and becomes a bird.

    • WizardG November 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      @Destiny Adams: “It’s a shame in country where most children don’t know the fifty states and its capitals, nor their 1st amendment rights, that many can spew out every song they hear on the radio.”

      I think that the “American” educational system is not in the business of teaching “black” children very much of anything. Even the universities leave much to desire. What’s more important than learning the names of the fifty states is what is (really) going on in each state as it pertains to blacks and poor. And what is going on in this country as a whole because of the type of people inhabiting these fifty states.We don’t need to memorize the names of every state when we can look them up in seconds but what we need to know some times takes our whole lives to find out and many of us are totally unable to find out or are unequipped by an indifferent white supremacist dominant social structure.

      We must understand that our people are being preyed upon by a very sadistic Eurocentric social structure which continues to maintain a quiet undercurrent of racist discriminatory behavior that even many of us are either afraid to talk about publicly or are unable to read the differences between white and black freedom. We must also understand that we have been stripped of our own cultures, languages, and traditions etc. and are now living the ‘white man’s lie’ of a lifestyle. With that comes all of the horrors they use on us. We begin to take on all of their traits and abuses! The abuses they’ve controlled us with are now the abuses we use on each other.
      The religions they used to brainwash us are now the religious beliefs we brainwash ourselves with. More and more of our people are becoming capitalistic greedy hoarders, and serial killers, and child molesters, disenfranchised families, and slick manipulating liars, and haters of “blacks”. etc. Much of what we are doing to ourselves today stems from our assimilation into this racist, Christian religious, white supremacist, barbaric, pillaging society of sociopaths. We are becoming more like them with each generation. The only thing that we cannot be is “White”! Though I imagine some have tried, and some do pass, and some think they are! I learned how to recite the ‘Gettysburg Address” in elementary school before I ever realized how endemic slavery was to my color, and before I learned why the reluctant slave owner ‘Abraham Lincoln’ allowed slaves to fight for freedom, and before I learned that some slaves stayed behind with their plantation owners to fight along side them against the freedom fighters! And on and on until today we are a very confused bunch of people with no clear direction, no traditions, or culture and without a strong brilliant leader that the Anglo-elite will allow to help us out of their vile and vicious grasp! At this rate the rapper JZ can’t possibly understand what damage his role plays in the whole scheme of things. He’s probably a devout Christian and means well like most Christians. We are victims of a cruel continuous joke!

  2. Anonymous November 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Did anyone look at the inside label to see where the T-Shirt was made….?????? Was it made in America.????…..There will always be someone trying to take advantage of the gathering of .large group of people…

    $22 is really too high a price to pay for a T-Shirt…….You can get buy a regular shirt for that price…

  3. Kofi November 17, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    jay-z is way out of touch with ordinary blacks at this time. it should not come as a shock that he tried to cash in. he’s a capitalist. one day people will realize that everything going on in this world, from this whole new world order, to the collapse of the economy to the war on terror is all geared towards the destruction of the black man.

  4. Roslyn Ferguson January 18, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Imagine trying to make money off occupy Wall Street? Jay z has lost his soul. He no longer has the redeeming qualities of a human being. I am afraid for him and I am afraid of him.

  5. Top heavy Donna June 10, 2012 at 2:31 am #


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