When Rich Rap Executives Talk About Their Gambling and Horse Racing Sinecures [and Also, Update: Subpoenas!]


Perhaps you recall the David Paterson scandal that broke early last week, before a much bigger scandal came along and more or less finished his political career? The one involving Jay-Z and the gambling consortium AEG, the latter of whom won slot a concession from David Paterson at Aqueduct Racetrack, despite submitting nowhere near the highest bid? And who just happened to cut Jay-Z in at a seven percent stake, right before they went about wooing outspoken Jay-Z buddy and fan David Paterson? Well, Def Jam founder Russell Simmons wants you to know that despite having apparently backed another, rival gambling consortium for the bid–see how crazy rap is now?–he’s got nothing but love for his good friend Jay-Z, who stole the horse races right out from underneath him. To wit:

“I find it typical, not shocking, that this past week, many small-minded members bloggers tried to make up a feud between me and my good friend, Jay-Z, over New York’s much maligned Aqueduct redevelopment bid,” wrote Simmons over at his own website, Global Grind. First of all, according to Simmons, Jay is a stand-up guy:

For the media to infer that Jay-Z is involved in any corrupt scandal is ludicrous, not the rapper, Ludacris, but ludicrous, like crazy…ludicrous, like me eating a piece of meat…ludicrous, like me not showing up for yoga, ludicrous like Jay-Z not being the King of New York, that kind of ludicrous.

That is ludicrous! But why would people insinuate there was a feud between the two men in the first place?

We have each endorsed our respective bidders for the Aqueduct deal, and my real question was never about Jay (I would bet my house that Jay-Z doesn’t have a crooked bone in his body), but about the decision making process in Albany. I am still mystified why New York State didn’t take the highest bid. Penn National Gaming, which I endorsed, offered $100 million more than any other competitor, and the State said that they only would accept the winning bidder, AEG’s, bid on the condition that they come up with an additional $100 million to match Penn National’s. That seemed to me fundamentally unfair as a bidding process, and totally untransparent.

Now, you could choose to follow the minutiae of this further, if you care to, or you could–like us–take a moment to step back and marvel at the sheer magic of two former Def Jam presidents arguing over horse racing and slot machines in the foothills of Long Island Queens [we obviously need to get our gambling game up]. If ever there was a sign that rap had fully hit its rock star, world-beating, U2’s-the-Edge-building-an-environmentally-ambiguous-palace-in-Malibu phase, this is it. Perhaps they can settle the dispute with a Basquiat-off, or an airplane race?

Or, they can settle it in court! The Post reports: “Former US Rep. Floyd Flake and rap moguls Jay Z and Russell Simmons will be subpoenaed today in the state probe into the controversial contract to operate slot machines at Aqueduct Racetrack, The Post has learned.”

This Is Not About Me or Jay-Z [Global Grind]

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