Jay-Z refutes Belafonte criticism on social responsibility: ‘My presence is charity’

July 26, 2013

“This is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. . . This guy who comes from Marcy Projects, who’s made it to these places — we’re playing Yankee Stadium tonight. . . you know how many people are inspired by my story?”

(Al Bello / Getty Images)

– Jay-Z responding to year-old criticism from Harry Belafonte, who complained that today’s minority superstars (he specifically named Jay and Beyonce) “have turned their back on social responsibility.” In a lengthy new interview posted on his own Web site, Jay-Z argues that he contributes to some causes anonymously (“I connect to the things I think are important, and I help in my way”) but that he contributes more merely by being a role model of success. Hmmm. He argues that the same goes for President Obama: “Of course we want to challenge him to do better” but “just being who he is. . . the first black president. If he speaks on any issue or anything he should be left alone.” Think this will settle the debate?

Read also: Why Jay-Z has no desire to be our generation’s Harry Belafonte

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Amy Argetsinger | July 26, 2013