On October 2nd, I met with Jay-Z to discuss life, hip-hop and American Gangster for the cover of the second-annual 20 Interviews issue of STOP SMILING magazine. Below are excerpts from that interview.
ON RACISM IN GANGSTER MOVIES
SS: Black people love Italian gangster movies, but many of these films are blatant in their racism. One of the very first words Jack Nicholson says in Martin Scorseseâ€™s The Departed is â€˜niggers.â€™ Why are people willing to overlook this?
JZ: There are certain things the audience hooks on to. Yes, the character might be racist, but heâ€™s still against the odds as he struggles against the world. However brief his rein might be, heâ€™s living the good life and thatâ€™s what Black kids hone in on. They donâ€™t pay attention to the racism, because racism is everywhere. Weâ€™ve learned to look past that.
SS: What about the word using the word â€˜niggerâ€™ in rhymes?
JZ: For me, itâ€™s all about the intention. I could call you an â€˜apple tree,â€™ but if I say it with venom and hate, that is what itâ€™s about. Itâ€™s not the word that has the power, itâ€™s the person. All of this came about because the Imus discussion turned into a hip-hop discussion.read more