“I’m me too’ing the Jewish culture. I’m saying you all have to stand up and admit to what you have been doing. You just got away with it for so long that you weren’t even realising what you were doing.”-Ye, Drink Champs Interview, 2022
“Artists getting robbed for their publishing/By dirty Jewish execs who think that it’s alms from the covenant.” -Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D.
“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” -Jay-Z, Story of OJ
“Get rid of that Devil real simple / Put a bullet in his temple / ’Cause you can’t be the N*gga 4 Life crew / With a white Jew telling you what to do”-Ice Cube, No Vaseline
“I feel like the people that’s in control of what Hip Hop does is so f—— white and so f—— Jewish until they don’t give a f— about what the culture and craft really is about,” -Scarface, Hard Knock TV, 2013
Negative sentiments are shared by many Black male rappers who have been taken advantage of in unfair contracts between themselves and Jewish record label executives. This isn’t unique to hip hop, so called “race music” of the 1920s and 1930s, music marketed specifically to African Americans, was often produced and owned by Jewish music professionals who pocketed the majority of the money and left artists poor and unable to care for themselves or family once they left the business. As artists are able to get on streaming platforms without major labels, that is rapidly changing, but for many Black musicians in their 30s or older, being sheisted by record executives was common. It was also common that these individuals, particularly New Yorkers, lived in slums, were taken advantage by pawn shops, and had to pay exorbitant rent at storefronts in their communities that were owned by Jewish people. It’s not surprising that their take on Jewish people is relatively unpopular and their comments among those considered anti-Semite according to the American Jewish Council (AJC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Of course this doesn’t include all Jewish people. We should all refrain from extremist statements that attribute negativity displayed by a some members of a group to everyone in that group. However, stereotypes, or oversimplified and fixed generalizations about a group of people may be rooted in the truth about a majority or large sample of that group. There are great differences between stereotypes and how they are treated, when we consider Jewish people and Black people. Antisemitism is sort of codified by the AJC and ADL, while racism has no standard set of ingredients. Stereotypes that Black people are less intelligent, listen to rap, are poor, and loud are all very damaging and untrue statements with no rooting in truth… but no one is going to be labeled anything, most likely, if they say or strongly hint at these ideas. Is it racism to assume a Black person is poor like it is antisemitism to assume a Jewish person is wealthy?!?!? The plight of Black people in America is an atrocious history. The history of Jewish people in America, through the eyes of many Black people, looks like one where they took advantage of their perceived Whiteness and then of us.
Let’s be clear… Jewish people have played a huge part in the entertainment industry, particularly music. It is no secret that a great deal of their success in that venture was built on the backs of Black artists. The Jewish record company owners paid jazz and blues artists in liquor, not money. The Chess Brothers acts mostly died destitute and owning nothing. Jerry Heller left N.W.A. members poor. Lyor Cohen negotiates faulty deals with young musicians cheating them out of millions. So the stories go. Just because these stories repeatedly held negative notions about Jewish people, used by Nazis to execute them during the Holocaust, that doesn’t negate the lived experiences of these artists. At some point accountability needs to be taken… that some Jewish people profited from victimizing Black people based in part on their juxtaposition to Whiteness and their proximity to Black people. Their ethic or religious differences far harder and frankly less likely to elicit the same negative consequences as dark skin.
Racism is the systematic discrimination of a group of people based on their race and their perceived inferiority to another race, their expression of that racism. So even if a person who has suffered or carries the ancestral suffering of racism relates that experience with the codified anti-Semite rules… their lived experience needs to be heard and considered as such before it is dismissed as antisemitism. Especially if the experience is rooted in the truth of history against not all, but some Jewish people. Then that truth needs to be acknowledged.
As far as Ye is concerned, he goes Bobby Boucher, the boy is wild. He’s a propaganda pusher, and while there are more positive and frankly better ways to express the idea that Blackness is exploited in entertainment, he has the right to chose how he verbally expresses himself. He could have just said : Black people don’t often own their own stake in most entertainment ventures. The only lives that continue to matter in America are those of White people. Racism won’t cause change, outrage, or uproar, the way antisemitism will in most industries in America. The surefire way to get blackballed and blacklisted is to utter negative Jewish tropes… because those are codified, yet Black people are asked to be resilient in the face of centuries long racism. He did not. He went full apeshit. But there is no denying that last week he wanted to own his interests outright… and now he does. Call it genius or despicable, but don’t call him Kanye.
“They throwin’ hate at me
Want me to stay at ease
Fuck you and your corporation
Y’all niggas can’t control me
I know that we the new slaves
I know that we the new slaves
I’m ’bout to wild the fuck out
I’m goin’ Bobby Boucher”-Kanye West, New Slaves