Nearly a year ago, Harry Belafonte publicly criticized Jay-Z and his superstar wife Beyoncé because they’ve “turned their back on social responsibility.” Beyoncé’s camp responded to the criticism almost immediately with an “abbreviated list of the unselfish work Beyoncé has done and continues to do.” The list included a $100K donation made in 2008. The singer’s husband, Jay-Z, was noticeably quiet following the criticism — until now.
Jay-Z finally responded to the famed Civil Rights/entertainment icon in a record titled “Nickels and Dimes” on his highly anticipated Magna Carta Holy Grail album. The rapper addresses Belafonte in the second verse of the song, telling his elder to respect youngins’. The specific lyrics that address Belafonte are in bold.
Sometimes I feel survivor’s guilt
I gave some money to this guy, he got high as hεll
Now I’m part of the problem far as I could tell
Did I do it for him or do it for myself
Can’t lie to myself
I love my níggas more than my own blood
I die for my níggas and I love my cub, hope that’s not fυcked up
I got a problem with the handouts, I took the man route
I’ll give an opportunity though, that’s the plan now
No guilt in giving clear a nígga conscience out
No guilt in receiving, every thing within reason
Can’t see it taking food out my little monster’s mouth
That’ll drive me gaga
Run up in your momma’s house, two nickels, one dime
Manslaughter charges, the lawyer, knocked it down
I’m just trying to find common ground
‘fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a nígga down
Mr. Day O, major fail
Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now
Hublot homie, two door homie
You don’t know all the shít I do for the homies
According to reputable hip-hop decoding website, RapGenius.com, Jay-Z is telling Belafonte that he [Harry Belafonte] does not know what he has done for the community. Jay-Z’s lyrics may appear to be more aligned with the right-wing Conservative’s point of view. He clearly detests “handouts” and expresses his primary interest in taking care of his own household. He also brags about the privilege riches gives a person, as noted in the lyric about having an attorney to “knock down” the manslaughter charges he’d attain after murdering the mother of a person who threatens his family’s well-being.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, who highlighted the divide between the two iconic entertainers in an op-ed for Your Black World, says that Jay-Z is the one who has to stand down in this situation.
“I know Jay-Z expects to be the king of all things, but Belafonte paved the way for Jay-Z to even exist,” said Dr. Watkins, who regularly refers to his mentors Min. Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Jesse Jackson. “If Belafonte had shown the same selfishness as Jay-Z throughout his career, he wouldn’t be half the man he is today. Jay-Z must respect this and NEVER refer to a grown a*ss black man as a ‘boy.’”