Black Scholar Goes After Jay Z for Pulling the Race Card in Defense of Failing Streaming Service

A nationally recognized black scholar is now criticizing Jay Z’s May 16 freestyle rap performance at Terminal 5 in New York City for its racial context.

“I don’t recall Jay Z ever really being that vocal, that irate over any issue that did not involve himself,” businessman and scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins told TheWrap Thursday.

Not only did the rap mogul go after Apple, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube last week in defense of his fledgling music streaming venture Tidal, But Jay Z also hinted that Tidal’s critics might be racist, and connected the high-profile deaths of black men Freddie Gray, Mike Brown, and teen Trayvon Martin with his business opponents.

“I feel like YouTube is the biggest culprit. Them n–gas pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get. You know n–gas die for equal pay, right? You know when I work I ain’t your slave, right?” he rapped at a show exclusively for Tidal subscribers.

He continued:

Well I can’t tell how they killed Freddie Gray, right, shot down Mike Brown how they did Tray, right?

Let ‘em continue choking n—as, we gonna turn style, I ain’t your token n—a.

You bought nine iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich, Phil Knight is worth trillions, you still bought them kicks, Spotify is nine billion, they ain’t say s–t.

Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do, the only one they hating on looks just like you.

Watch a clip of the performance below:


Tidal was originally billed as being created to put control of music back in the hands of struggling artists, but failed to connect and essentially flopped shortly after its March launch.

Dr. Watkins, who frequently appears on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and many others to discuss issues of race, according to his personal website, said connecting the streaming service’s failure comes off as “disingenuous,” and challenged the rapper’s motives.

“He’s invoking the names of Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, which have become somewhat sacred in the black community, and you’re invoking those into this conversation you’re having about whether your multimillion-dollar corporation is going to be successful or not?” Watkins told TheWrap.

Jay-Z re-introduced Tidal alongside some of the biggest names in music March 31, as the first-ever artist owned streaming service, which made plans to compete with industry big shots Pandora and Spotify.

While offering no free ad-based service, two different price points were introduced: $9.95 for standard sound quality and $19.99 for “lossless high fidelity sound quality.”

The app for the service fell out of the top 700 for U.S. iPhone users within a few weeks.

Jay-Z bought Tidal earlier this year from the Swedish company Asprio for $56 million.


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