Watch: Jay Z and Molly Crabapple's Incredible Collaboration Exposes the Madness of the War on Drugs
America's massive school-to-prison pipeline wasn't constructed overnight, Jay Z explains in a brilliant deconstruction of the war on drugs.
Launched on the New York Times website Thursday morning, the legendary rapper's new collaboration with DPA and Revolve Impact, uses artist Molly Crabapple's work to paint the drug war in a new light—literally.
In a Times opinion piece, Jay Z explains the racist movies of the drug war in a voiceover as Crabapple's paintings of the characters he describes come to life.
"In 1986, when I was coming of age, Ronald Reagan doubled down on the war on drugs, which had been started by Richard Nixon in 1971," narrates Jay Z in the video. The message was simple: Drug dealers were monsters and "young men who hustle" (as Jay Z calls them) should be villainized. No one wanted to talk about "the defunding of schools and the loss of jobs," and the incarceration rates increased exponentially through the 1990s.
"Today we imprison more people than any other country in the world, [including] China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, all countries we consider autocratic and repressive," Jay Z says.
Tough-on-crime laws forced judges to hand out mandatory life sentences for low-level crimes. But it got worse.
"Then the feds made distinctions between those who sold powder cocaine and crack cocaine, even though they were the same drug. Only difference is how you take it. And even though white people sold drugs more than black people, somehow it was black people who went to prison," Jay Z says, followed by an even more shocking statement:
"The media ignores actual data to this day."