Jay-Z – ‘The Story of OJ’
Jay-Z’s new video is a racially-charged whirl-wind filled with rude stereotypes and ugly archetypes.
“The Story of OJ”, Jay-Z’s new video, explores race relations in America and is imbued with a lot of incendiary stuff. The video employs bygone era cartoons as commentary on deep-rooted discrimination, and shows how stereotypes, prejudices and racist ideology got propagated through culture. The vintage-style aesthetic casts a wide net, touching on narratives such as nativism, xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, supremacism, and related social phenomena.
Reminding us of that montage from Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, Jay mashes up his art with motifs and lyrics around history, conspiracies, pop culture, class privilege and generational wealth. Through struggle and sublimation, you can rise up in a repressive system, but you’re never really on par with your peers. The problem is endemic and institutionalized, and Mr. Carter makes that clear with visceral imagery of newly-minted KKK members streaming out of a racist mill. OJ was just a product of racial false consciousness, in Jay’s view. The song even inveighs against Jewish property owners (“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit./ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”). Jay also talks up NYC real estate as a lucrative asset class and mentions handing down ‘bougie’ artwork to his kids — an astute way to skirt the tax authorities, no doubt. The main thrust of the track is tracing the contours of the black experience in America and the widespread ‘colorism’ that exists collectively and subconsciously. The ditty is deliberately subversive with a chorus that goes mostly like this: “Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga. Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga. Still nigga, still nigga.” Fresh off the album 4:44, the song is a scathing critique of stereotyping, ‘white hegemony’ and ‘power apparatuses’, and all the arguments of the militant left, as well as all the paradoxes. Peep it below.
VIVISXN MEDIA – Music + Culture