By Gil Kaufman
Don’t expect to see Jay-Z and hip-hop godfather Russell Simmons packing up a basket for lunch with Blue Ivy in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park anytime soon. A few days after Jigga said in the New York Times Magazine that he actually didn’t support the Occupy Wall Street protest movement because he thought their movement didn’t really have a clear message, Uncle Russ responded with an essay on his Global Grind site entitled, “Jay-Z Is Right 99 Times, But This Ain’t One.”
“As a person who cares deeply about Occupy Wall Street, I have to honor their year-long effort and educate my long-time friend, Jay-Z,” Simmons wrote of his reaction when Jay told him his current feelings about the movement. “This weekend, he was interviewed by the New York Times, where he discusses OWS, where he was quoted as saying ‘I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?’”
Simmons said that if Jay understood OWS and endorsed the movement, “it would make a big difference to poor people. As the same man that said he would pay more taxes if it helped educate more children and create affordable healthcare, Jay-Z’s words matter. He was honest enough to say that he didn’t understand it. A lot of Americans don’t.”
You might remember that Jay took a trip down to OWS with Simmons last year, and that Rocawear latersold shirts that read? “Occupy All Streets.” After a flap over where proceeds were going, the $22 shirts were either pulled from the site or sold out.
Jay, whose net worth is reportedly around $460 million, also told the Times that he’s not down with OWS’ broad-brush stance against the 1 percent. “When you just say that ‘the 1 percent is that,’ that’s not true,” he said. “Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”
Russell, who went to Zuccotti nearly every day for months, said he knows Jay’s a “compassionate person who cares about the poor” and he’s sure if he had a few more minutes with him he could change Jigga’s mind. “Every day there was a new protester with a new sign, fighting for the rights of the under-served,” Simmons wrote. “There was never an official agenda or media-friendly talking points. Zuccotti Park and the Occupy camps that sprung up around the country were places for any and every person to come and share ideas about how to better perfect our union. Our democracy.”
He went on to explain what he saw as the movement’s successes and asked Jay to give it one more shot. “Jay, here’s the deal,” he wrote. “You’re rich and I’m rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them … We must take our democracy off the market and let the world know that it is no longer for sale! Mic check!”