After wowing tri-state area crowds during his Watch The Throne shows with Kanye West, Jay-Z was spotted wearing a tshirt that said “Occupy Wall Street(s)”; the shirt was actually a prototype, and his clothing line Rocawear will eventually sell them to the public at large. Good for you, Jay! Following in your fellow throne-sitter Kanye West’s footsteps of supporting the 99%, and not even wearing Givenchy while you do it. There’s a catch, though—Jay’s rep issued a statement saying, in part, “At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.” This has a lot of people talking, naturally.
Some people are surprised that a wealthy, incredibly business-savvy rapper is taking a popular slogan that has come to embody general dissatisfaction with our nation’s financial structure as a whole and repurposing it for his own financial gain. Take New Jersey punk rockers Titus Andronicus, who added Jay-Z to their ever-growing #shitlist and expressed disbelief that Jay was “co-opting an anti-capitalist movement and turning into another tool for yr 1% capitalist agenda, without sharing the profits.” On the other side, Russell Simmons tweeted that he is happy that the shirts will bring a greater awareness to the cause. Simmons has been supporting the protests for a while, bringing ‘Ye down there for his all-too-brief visit and tweeting the occasional words of encouragement. This despite he’s authored a book called Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All and hasn’t been called on publicly to financially support the movement.
If Jay wants to seize an opportunity that will ultimately be pretty profitable, given his ability to shill almost anything and make it seem cool, then that is his decision, and it’s a smart one, especially because it doubles as a sign of solidarity. Wouldn’t you rather have the “best rapper alive” throwing his weight in your direction than, say, J.C. Penney?