Ari Melber of MSNBC often makes references to rap lyrics during his broadcasts. In a recent segment he talked about lyrics by businessman and hip hop artist Jay-Z. In his verse dropped in a new song, Jay-Z references a clip from a 1996 CBS “60 Minutes” interview of Mike Wallace and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that in my estimation, brings the history of the global impact of the Nation of Islam full circle.
In the song Jay-Z talks about the failed U.S. “war on drugs” policy which disproportionately impacts Black communities and his past life dealing drugs. His verse highlights Min. Farrakhan’s response to U.S. global imperialism in Nigeria. In the interview, Min. Farrakhan takes great exception to Mr. Wallace’s accusation that Nigeria is possibly “the most corrupt nation in the world.”
What Mr. Wallace’s statement pointed out was the nerve of this CBS corporate talking head making such an accusation with America’s hands dripping with the blood of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. And the irony based on America’s history of the industrial revolution which was the principal catalyst of imperialism, its Western colonialism, corrupt capitalism, its free-market exploits and its hand in targeting Blacks in the so-called “war on drugs.” While Mr. Wallace pointed the finger at Nigeria for its corruption, Min. Farrakhan pointed out America’s corruption.
During the interview the Minister took Mr. Wallace to task and the Muslim leader’s full remarks put an exclamation point on him being the Western Hemisphere’s leading voice for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora.
“Fine! So what! Thirty-five years old, that’s what that nation (Nigeria) is. Here’s America 226 years old. You love Democracy, but there in Africa you’re trying to force these people into a system of government you’ve just accepted. (Only) 30 years ago Black folks got the right to vote. You should be quiet and let those of us who know our people go there and help them get out of that condition. But America should keep her mouth shut,” Minister Farrakhan stated.
“Wherever there’s a corrupt regime, and as much hell as America has raised on the earth … . No, I will not allow America or you, Mister Wallace, to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on the earth when you have spilled the blood of human beings. Has Nigeria dropped an atomic bomb and killed people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Have they killed millions of Native Americans? How dare you put yourself in that position as a moral judge. I think you should keep quiet, because with that much blood on American hands you have no right to speak!”
Oppression and corruption are also experienced in urban America and Melber delves into this while breaking down Jay-Z’s lyrics on “God Did,” produced by D.J. Khaled. Melber refers to Jay-Z’s past life selling crack-cocaine and criticizes the historical disparity between White and Black sentencing guidelines as racist.
According to Melber, “Around the world many nations face corruption. U.S. police often tell themselves a story about America being exceptional and superior to other nations. There is some corruption in voting rights, criminal justice, housing rights, a political system that faces legal corruption with some of the most expensive campaigns in the world and many critiques of U.S. foreign policy.”
Melber delves into Jay-Z’s lyrics while calling out the White supremacist, U.S. imperialist bent in its use of the “war on drugs” that targets Blacks. “Those lines quickly go from prohibition to a war on street drugs associated with minorities … to fentanyl, a huge driver of drug problems and deaths, which politicians do not treat criminally the same way they attack the drugs that Jay or others once sold,” Ari Melber said.
As a recent article on rollingstone.com notes in part, “Jay sounds more and more like the eloquent advocate for criminal justice reform he’s become in recent years … .”
Jay-Z’s lyrical name drop in “God Did” again bestows on Min. Farrakhan his G.O.A.T. (greatest of all times) status, which activist Tamika Mallory got in trouble for saying, especially from members of the Jewish community.
“Next time we have a discussion who the GOAT, you donkeys know this; Forgive me, that’s my passion talkin’; Sometimes I feel like Farrakhan talkin’ to Mike Wallace; I think y’all should keep quiet,” Jay-Z’s raps.
In fact, Jay-Z’s lyrics are a testament, shouting above a cacophony of voices.
Even NBA great Lebron James tweeted: “Listen! Then listen again to make sure you got the point. HOV (JZ) (goat emoji) !!!!! And so did the reporter!”
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