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

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.”


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.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 6:52 PM Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters  Colorado Democrats and Republicans are testing theories for reaching women that will resonate far beyond the Rocky Mountains.  
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.