Jay-Z has heard about the “eat the rich” and capitalist comments people have used to describe his current billionaire status. The phrase was born out of the French Revolution when the lower-class Frenchmen were not getting enough to eat and felt starved and abused by the upper class.
But if you ask Jay-Z what he thinks, he’ll tell you he’s been called worse.
“Before was the American dream, ‘Pull yourself by the bootstraps, and you can make yourself…you can make it in America,’ all these lies that America told us our whole life,” Jay Z said during a press interview via Twitter Spaces. “And then when we start getting in, they tried to lock us out of it. They start inventing words like, you know, ‘capitalist,’ you know, things like that. I mean, you know, we’ve been called ‘n–ger’ and ‘monkeys’ and sh-t. I don’t care; those words y’all come up with. Y’all gotta come up with stronger words.”
Jay-Z rapped about his musical and financial accomplishments in DJ Khaled’s new release “God Did.” For about four minutes, he reflects on his journey from the streets to becoming one of hip hop’s first billionaires.
But let’s be clear. According to “-Webster Dictionary,” a capitalist is a person who has capital, especially invested in business, industry; capitalists broadly or a person of wealth, not a slur created to snub the musical mogul.
If anything, Jay-Z views the disdain for his current financial status as a racially fueled issue. He says he refuses to be “tricked out of this position” or barred from the opportunities Blacks didn’t always have access to.
But is it a racial issue or a critique of our economy? When it comes to billionaires, they are not only part of an extremely powerful few, but sometimes benefit from the severe hardships of others. They could make more than their employees’ salaries in 10 seconds while the rest of the world struggles to meet the costs of basic needs. To some, they are viewed as an embodiment of policy failure and a representation of pure inequality. But this point was a far cry from the actual conversation Jay-Z had about his finances.
“We went our alternative route, we made this music, we did our thing,” Jay-Z continued. “You know, we hustled, we f-cking killed ourselves to get to this space, and now, it’s like, eat the rich. Man, we’re not stopping. We came from selling seven records and selling records out of our trunk. No radio play.”
He went on to talk about his come-up and how he single-handedly changed the trajectory of his life and even helped a few other artists along the way, like Rihanna and Kanye West.
His comments have since sparked a debate in the Black Twitterverse: