Jay-Z and Beyonce came under fire this week for a trip they took to Cuba — a vacation that, as I wrote on Tuesday, underscores the rather silly nature of the restrictions imposed on Americans’ ability to visit the island nation. The visit has several conservative lawmakers up in arms. Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for instance, said that she found it "very disconcerting that these two mega stars would go down to Cuba and vacation as if they were in a tropical paradise and not say one word about the brutality their hosts display against all pro democracy activists."
Well today Jay-Z did speak out — but against his critics, not the Castro regime. The response, naturally, came in the form of a new song — aptly titled "Open Letter."
Jay’s track release comes shortly after news that he is starting a sports management company — a move that has forced him to sell his shares in the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball team he helped move from New Jersey to his native borough. In "Open Letter" he takes on both his critics in Congress and those who have raised eyebrows at his surprising entrance into sports management. "I done turned Havana to Atlanta/Guayabera shirts and bandanas," Jay points out.
Addressing the likes of Ros-Lehtinen and her allies in Congress, he has some less-than-kind words: "Boy from the hood but got White House clearance/Sorry y’all, I don’t agree with y’all appearance/Politicians never did shit for me/Except lie to me, distort history/Wanna give me jail time and a fine/Fine, let me commit a real crime/I might buy a kilo for Chief Keef/Out of spite, I just might flood these streets."
He also some advice for President Obama: "Obama said chill, you gonna get me impeached/But you don’t need this shit anyway/Chill with me on the beach."
Hey, Obama is finishing up a second term. Here’s hoping that some day soon, we see the lame-duck president smoking Cuban cigars on a beach somewhere with Jay-Z.
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.| Marc Lynch |