Jay-Z was leading nominations on Sunday for the Grammys, feted by music industry heavyweights, and, in between, taken to task by the president of the United States.
President Donald Trump criticized Jay-Z on his Twitter feed, likely in response to the rap mogul’s denunciations of the US leader in an interview.
“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” Trump tweeted.
Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2018
Trump was accurately pointing to record-low unemployment for US minorities, although critics note that the US economic expansion began well before, under his predecessor Barack Obama.
Jay-Z, who along with his wife Beyonce, became friends and political allies of Obama, in the interview broadcast Saturday on CNN said that Trump’s belittling remarks toward people of color overshadowed any employment data.
“Money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point,” said Jay-Z, no stranger to flashing his material wealth.
“You treat people like human beings, then that’s the main point,” he told host Van Jones, a former aide to Obama.
He also compared Trump to vermin.
“You have sprayed perfume on the trash can,” he said. “What you do when you do that is the bugs come. You spray something and you create a superbug because you don’t take care of the problem. You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug. And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”
Jay-Z said that Trump’s election laid bare the persistence of racism in the United States and voiced dismay at the president’s reported quip that he did not want immigrants coming from “shithole” countries in Africa or predominantly black Haiti.
“It’s real hurtful. Because it’s looking down at a whole population of people and it’s so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything,” Jay-Z said.
Jay-Z is in the running for eight Grammys on Sunday, amid acclaim for his latest album “4:44,” a strikingly introspective work, in which he addresses institutional racism, apologizes to Beyonce for infidelity, and supports his mother as she comes out as a lesbian.
Jay-Z on Saturday night received an award as an “industry icon” at a pre-Grammy gala, where the rapper voiced contrition for boycotting the music industry’s prize night two decades earlier.