Jay-Z and Kanye Are Revolutionaries (Maybe)

Three crucial passages from Cord Jefferson’s analysis of the self-styling of Jay-Z and Kanye as voices of a revolution, particularly as “neo-black power icons.” This is required reading.


You or I might be embarrassed to name-drop murdered black socialists in one breath before bragging about having dozens of cars in the next. But Jay and West seem eminently comfortable in the thorny middle ground separating righteousness and decadence.


Considered from that angle — that Jay-Z sees himself as an activist simply because he’s been able to exploit the game as well as any rich white person — the riot scene in the “No Church in the Wild” video starts to make a bit of sense. The Molotov cocktails and kicks to the bellies of cops are metaphors for Jay and West’s real revolutionary acts: buying private jets, having expensive lunches, and getting invited to important events.


I’m just a bit sad that our black power is now the same as Trump’s power or the Kochs’ power or any other nameless millionaire sitting in some exclusive restaurant in Monaco, eating some fish on the verge of extinction.