Jay-Z Tries to Profit Off Occupy Wall Street

To our knowledge, Jay-Z has not been to Occupy Wall Street, or any other Occupies across the world. Yet he was recently seen wearing a t-shirtthat read "Occupy All Streets," with the W in "Wall" crossed off and the S added. His clothing company, Rocawear, is about to start selling said shirts. None of the profits, thus far, are scheduled to go back to Occupy Wall Street. A statement from Rocawear, sent to Business Insider:

The 'Occupy All Streets' T shirt was created in support of the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. 'Occupy All Streets' is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.

Um, NO. You don't get to do this. As a longtime fan of Jay-Z, I understand the point of the t-shirt, and where he's coming from—despite having been very wealthy for a very long time, he still wants fans to associate him with "the streets" and as a rapper of the people. He still raps about selling drugs, despite having not sold them for at least a decade. Though I defended his opulent last album with Kanye West, Watch the Throne, as aspirational, you still can't get around the fact that the video for its lead single involved desecrating a $400,000 Maybach. (At least the vehicle was reportedly scheduled to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to East African drought relief, though we can't find evidence that it actually went up for sale yet.) 

But the beauty of the Occupy movement is that it's open enough that the 1% is welcomed with open arms—Jay's friend Russell Simmons is constantly down there, for instance, and has said he would gladly accept a tax hike if it meant righting the inequity in America. If Jay-Z made a public appearance in Zuccotti Park like Kanye, the public would naturally go apeshit: he's as beloved as almost any rapper ever, and undeniably a super-genius. Instead, his unfortunate fashion line chooses to siphon the cool of the movement without so much as a true show of support. It's a shame.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at November 12, 2011, 8:12am

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