Earlier this week at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, visiting British Royals William and Kate attended their first NBA game.
During a break in the action between the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, the British Royal couple exchanged pleasantries and chatted briefly with American music icons Beyonce and Jay-Z.
The couples’ cordial court side conversation was shown on the arena Jumbotron and immediately covered by international media.
Established media outlets referring to Beyonce and Jay-Z as “American Royalty” instantly caught my attention. Their choice of words prompted me to research relevant details regarding the seemingly innocuous “American Royalty” comment.
My first stop was the dictionary where Merriam-Webster specifically defines royalty as a person of royal lineage or an individual of regal character or bearing.
Though not birthed by a king or queen, the gracious Beyonce embodies the admirable trait of dignity that befits a person of royal lineage. However, it was clear to me that her husband possessed neither prerequisite to justifiably carry a regal title.
That’s exactly why Beyonce’s hubby became my second stop. And, my casual glance into Jay-Z’s musical background proved not only eye opening, but also demoralizing.
My simple research quickly revealed why mentioning Jay-Z and royalty in the same breath is, as the Brits say, the quintessential oxymoron.
That’s because the famous hip hop artist, music mogul and now head of Roc Nation Sports has been given a free pass in our nation’s culture today by those who refuse to look at his past.
Starting with his first album in 1996, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has flexed his recording muscle in ways now reflective of our culture.
We as parents, teachers, managers, leaders and even respectable sports fans have quietly allowed Jay-Z to fill the psyche of our youth with dehumanizing lyrics strung behind catchy music. We’ve acquiesced as this hip hop artist, irresponsibly called “American Royalty” by the media, has seeded the minds of young male adults with a warped, perverse attitude concerning women.
And now, as evidenced by the NFL’s well documented cases of domestic abuse, we’re painfully confronting its outcome.
As a society, we’ve given Jay-Z and other miscreant musical artists carte blanche to poison our minds and those of our growing sons.
We’ve blindly excused these entertainers, cowardly giving them unfettered access in our culture. Their reward has been whopping sales figures in the name of modern day artistry?
Now that professional sports leagues appear to be shouldering greater social responsibility, the Roc Nation Sports CEO’s lyrics must be more closely scrutinized.
Because of these new superstar clients, Jay-Z finds himself in the boardrooms of franchise owners and corporate sponsorship giants. As a result, the NFL, MLB and NBA should not tolerate Jay-Z’s past and present wretched rhymes.
I’m curious. Has anyone from the NFL, MLB or NBA offices ever delved into Jay-Z’s recording history to determine whether his catalog of songs best represent the spirit of their sports?
More specifically, the leagues need to ascertain whether Jay-Z’s musical messages extol women in a positive light or denigrate women to testosterone-infused men who think of them as meat for their sexual appetites or punching bags for their frustrations.
If pressed to investigate, league executives would soon discover that Carter and his wife Beyonce don’t lullaby their child Blue Ivy to bed each night to lyrics made famous by Jay-Z, Roc Nation Sports’ CEO.
Certainly, Jay-Z’s songs are protected by our nation’s constitutional free speech laws. But, given the physical and sexual abuse leveled by pro athletes against an increasing number of their wives and girlfriends, why hasn’t the NFL, MLB or NBA spoken up about the hip hop artist’s misogynistic lyrics?
Jay-Z may be one of the most successful and wealthiest music artists in the entertainment industry. But, now that he’s also negotiating some of the biggest pro athlete contracts, why aren’t the heads of pro sports leagues giving a questionable glance at Jay-Z?
If Roger Goodell is sanctioning the player who did the deed, what about glancing backward at the hip hop artist turned super agent whose pervasive rants may have indirectly contributed to misbehavior toward women?
Further, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation enjoys a growing roster of talent. Should we assume then that Kevin Durant, CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, Geno Smith and especially Skylar Diggans condone their agent’s lyrics? Or are they, too, remaining silent about the impossible-to-ignore messaging which devalues women and the bullying behavior of some of our nation’s most popular athletes? Are we celebrating the music and ignoring the consequences of its outworking?
Why haven’t more people acknowledged the downward, guttural pull of lyrics like those of Jay-Z’s that refer to women as “b#tches” and “h#es” that are referenced in far too many songs.
I’m curious to know. How many Jay-Z songs did Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice, Charlotte Panthers’ Greg Hardy and other batterers have on their playlists? Researching the matter might make for an interesting university sociology study.
Before lashing out at their wives and girlfriends, did these athletes choose from rhymes like “That’s My B#tch” from Jay-Z’s 2011 Watch the Throne album or “2 Many H#es” from his 2002 The Blueprint 2: The Gift and Curse? Or, did they perhaps refer to “Money Cash H#es” from Jay-Z’s 1998 Hard Knock Life album?
Now, do these rhymes sound like those sung by someone we should call “American Royalty?”
The NFL, MLB and NBA are currently embarking upon a new era of social oversight in managing their hugely successful leagues.
Zero tolerance for domestic violence has rightfully become their collective rallying cry.
Likewise, zero tolerance should be equally applied toward musical artists like Jay-Z or others with ties to the NFL, MLB and NBA if their songs contain misogynistic lyrics or foster callous, dismissive portrayals of women.
Money, music and sports resonate loudly throughout all sectors of our society. That’s why the growing influence of Roc Nation Sports’ CEO and other celebrated musical artists so disturbs me and needs to be addressed.
The NFL, MLB and NBA should no longer give Jay-Z a free pass, and the media should immediately refrain from referencing him as “American Royalty.”
As a society, we all should expect better.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!