Jay Z, Jews, and “All the Property” (Financial Independence) (4:44)

j z money

Intent on inverting Marx’s dictum on Judaism and the religion of money, on the one hand, 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. On the other hand, Jay Z repeats the mantra that Jews own all the property.

“You wanna know what’s more important than throwing away money at a strip club? Credit/ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it/ Financial freedom my only hope/ F— living rich and dying broke,”

In this review of Black Bar Mitzvah, Brandon Soderberg writes for Spin, “What Jay-Z enacted when he said, “l’chaim,” or when he explained the celebration of his success as a “black bar mitzvah,” was the sort of playful, entry-level, learn-from-each-other’s-culture stuff that’s the core of American interaction, particularly in the world of business. Just as a generation or two of Jewish peoples took their style and slang from the NBA and hip-hop, and therefore attempted to forge cultural connections, Jay-Z employed some Jewish slang to make a point about his success and upward mobility.”

Forget for a moment the truth. Is property, owning property, owning all the property a good thing or a bad thing? And what does this have to do with “Jewish people”? This review which you can read here in the Telegraph mentions in larger context what is nothing more but a little less less than one anti-Semitic line in a larger compilation that has nothing to do with “Jews.” But why the introduction of this line that crosses so easily back and forth between philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism? Gentile culture is truly baffling.

Maybe gentiles should expunge the word “Jew” from their vocabulary, but there’s an eliminationist logic to that too. Also, culture never stops talking, never stops using  words. Once in the word is in, which means that still in Christian society, as soon as you have said “Jew” you have said “money,” automatically. Expressing no real animus, perhaps even admiration, one can only guess that the toxic little line is there to reflect off an integral part of the artist’s world in the industry. But the line does not carry well over into the outside. To what end, though, does one want to state that “Jewish people own all the property”? There’s no way to win at this game. What the classical Zionist theorists understood at the last fin de siècle was that at the superstructure of its highest and most charged symbolic register in gentile society, there really is no good place there for “Jews.”

 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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