Jay-Z Addresses Cuba Controversy and Obama in Fiery New Song

Slate's Culture Blog
April 11 2013 11:58 AM

Jay-Z Offers “Open Letter” to Obama, Critics

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Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles in Havana, Cuba.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been weathering quite a bit of controversy in 2013—lip-syncgate, baby bump conspiracy theories, questions about the rapper’s new career as a sports agent. Then last week the couple’s trip to Havana sparked fresh ire, with two Florida Congressmen pursuing an investigation into the legality of their visit. In a move just as bold as his wife’s National Anthem press conference back in February, Jay-Z has addressed the Congressmen, other critics, and the President of the United States in a new track, “Open Letter.”

“Politicians ain’t done shit for me/ Except lie to me, distort history,” he raps over a Swizz Beatz-Timbaland produced beat. While the U.S. Treasury has since maintained that the couple’s stay in Cuba was authorized under a “people-to-people” license, Florida representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen haven’t been satisfied. (Marco Rubio isn’t pleased, either, apparently.) Obama, a friend of Jay-Z and Beyoncé, is addressed separately from these other “politicians,” but Jay-Z is not exactly cheering him on. “Obama said, ‘Chill, you’re gonna get me impeached’/ You don’t need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach.”

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Clearly the rapper still has fire in his belly. After the tepid response to his verse on Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie,” it’s nice to see him show some musical passion again, if only for a few short minutes.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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