Occupy Wall Street first took to the streets of NYC in 2011 to protest, as its website states “the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.” Since its inception, OWS has not only gained global attention but support from celebrities, including hip-hop notables Russell Simmons, Kanye West, Common and Mos Def, just to name a few.
But don’t add Jay Z to this list. It seems one of New York City’s now most prominent businessmen doesn’t put his substantial weight behind the movement.
Jay Z, who is celebrating one of his greatest non-music efforts — the opening of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn debut of the basketball team he partly owns, the Nets — told The New York Times magazine he never really “got the OWS message.” He goes on to say that he thought OWS’ message was not clear and that the movement demonized entrepreneurs. “I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about,” he said.
Ironically, the clothing company Jay Z co-founded, Rocawear (which he sold to Iconix Brand Group for $204 million), was selling Occupy Wall Street t-shirts. Consumers may have thought the proceeds were being donated to OWS, but the company never disclosed where they were going. Rocawear eventually yanked the products off the market amid claims it was exploiting the movement.
Jay Z, who is worth an estimated $460 million, stated in the Times magazine interview that he felt OWS is actually against what America stands for — capitalism. “This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on,” he continued.
Still, you can’t accuse Hova of being apolitical. He and the missus are hosting a fundraiser for President Obama on September 18 at Jay Z’s 40/40 club. The donation: $40,000. See you there?