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Is Jay-Z ‘Going Anti-Semitic’ On New Record?

On Jay-Z’s latest single, the hip-hop superstar makes what some took to be an anti-Semitic comment, rapping that Jewish people “own all the property in America.”

In a song titled “The Story of O.J.,” Jay-Z appears to admonish black Americans for “throwing away” their money — and advises them to follow the lead of Jews, who “own all the property.”

“You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it,” he raps before launching into a lesson about the importance of “financial freedom.”

Zachary Braiterman, a professor of religion at Syracuse University, described the line as a mixture of philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism.

“Jay-Z seems to think it’s actually a good thing that Jews ‘own all the property,’ recommending capital as a model of financial independence to the African American community,” Braiterman wrote on his blog. “On the other hand, Jay-Z repeats the mantra that Jews own all the property.”

Jay-Z has made numerous references to Jews in his songs throughout his decades-long career. In 2007, on the song “No Hook,” Jay-Z appeared to reference how his lawyer Murray Richman (who is Jewish) also profited from his own success. “Had to get some challah bread so you can holla back,” he rapped, “my Jewish lawyer too enjoyed the fruit of letting my cash stack.”

In 2006, Jay-Z and fellow rap mogul Russel Simmons also recorded a public service announcement to condemn anti-Semitism, saying it was just “a long word for racism.”

Contact Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com or on Twitter, @skestenbaum

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Is Jay-Z ‘Going Anti-Semitic’ On New Record?

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