Gotta admit, I was half sleep when the news hit, but I remember my reaction was, “How can this happen. He was loved by millions. And his music?! Kids everywhere would sing his song, ‘I love you, you love me.’ I don’t know what you did, but why, Barney, why?”
Then I woke up and caught the news about what actually was going on. They were referring to the upscale retail store Barneys practicing racial profiling and discriminatory practices? Oh, word? And we’re shocked? I thought that was called “day-to-day living” in the city of stop-and-frisk. The wrinkle in the story, however, is the presence of an iconic musician who just so happens to be African-American.
Seems said icon, Jay Z, has a huge collaboration in the works with Barneys set to launch Nov. 20. The two entities partnered on a holiday collection called BNY SCC Gallery, featuring limited edition gear and accessories. Some of the items revealed are a black leather backpack by Alexander Wang, a cashmere blanket by the Elder Statesman, a men’s bag by Proenza Schouler and not to be outdone is the Shawn Carter by Hublot watch, featuring black alligator straps that’s being let go for $33,900. The common man gets thrown a bone with a cotton T-shirt that runs 70 bucks. With that kind of paper, it’s no wonder his response was not the definitive, whole-hearted backing behind the victims. Nah, he played the middle.
Some highlights from his statement are: “This collaboration lives in a place of giving and is about the foundation. I am not making a dime from this collection; I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported. I need to make that fact crystal clear. The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary, and the foundation is receiving 25 percent of all sales from the collaboration, 10 percent of all sales generated in the store on Nov. 20 and an additional donation from Barneys. This money is going to help individuals facing socioeconomic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning.”
He continues, “Making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project wouldn’t hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter, but all the people that stand a chance at higher education. I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn’t harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration. I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgments, no matter who it’s toward, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles? I am no stranger to being profiled, and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position.”
I guess I wasn’t totally wrong with the Barney reference in the first paragraph. In the entertainment game, sadly for rap music in particular, characters and caricatures riddle the playing field. Jay Z, though, was a different cat. He seemed like a real dude who, through the veil of slick verbiage and sick flow, connected to the streets. He knew the aspirations and inspirations of hood-dwellers and eventually became it. So his response isn’t surprising. “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!” Remember that? How about “American Gangster gangster businesses like I’m white/But I’m not, I’m just bright/So fly with no fear of the flight/So if y’all hear my plight/And if you think you can make it this far without a fight/Couple mistakes here and there/Not always right, but I’m always real/That’s how I sleep at night.”
Looks like we’ve added to the “99 Problems” for Shawn “Jay Z” Carter. Well-deserved though. Get that bread, don’t let the bread get you, brah. I’m out ... holla next week. ‘Till then, enjoy the nightlife.