Jay-Z salutes foot­ball rebel in New York re­turn

Ringo Starr gets back to where he once be­longed

Arab Times - - NEWS/FEATURES -

NEW YORK, Sept 16, (AFP): Back on stage in his na­tive New York af­ter a stint as a full-time busi­ness­man, Jay-Z was in the mood for his clas­sics. And for a bit of pol­i­tics.

Head­lin­ing The Mead­ows Fes­ti­val Fri­day night be­fore one of artist Jeff Koons’ giant bal­loon dogs, Jay-Z hailed two out­spo­ken voices on race re­la­tions: quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick and re­cently de­ceased co­me­dian Dick Gregory.

“I want to ded­i­cate this song to Colin Kaeper­nick. I want to ded­i­cate this to Dick Gregory”, Jay-Z said to hoots of ap­proval from fans amassed for the two-year-old fes­ti­val in the park­ing lot of the New York Mets’ base­ball sta­dium.

“I want to ded­i­cate this song to any­one that was held back and you over­came what­ever it was”, he said.

The song was “The Story of O.J.”, the most con­tro­ver­sial song of Jay-Z’s in­tro­spec­tive new al­bum “4:44”.

In the song, Jay-Z takes an anec­dote from NFL run­ning back O.J. Simp­son — who al­legedly, when ac­cused of killing his wife and her lover, quipped, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” — and ex­am­ines how racial prej­u­dice still per­me­ates US so­ci­ety.

Kaeper­nick — a very dif­fer­ent type of star than Simp­son — has drawn fire from con­ser­va­tives, no­tably Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, for re­fus­ing to stand for the US na­tional an­them as a protest over the coun­try’s treat­ment of mi­nori­ties.

Af­ter be­ing re­leased from the San Fran­cisco 49ers, the bira­cial quar­ter­back has found him­self with­out a team, fu­el­ing charges that he has been black­listed for his po­lit­i­cal views.

Per­form­ing “The Story of O.J.”, Jay-Z did not hold back on the song’s most con­tested line, em­pha­sized over a break in the beats: “You ever won­der why peo­ple own all the prop­erty in Amer­ica?”

The Anti-Defama­tion League, the lead­ing Jewish civil rights group, has crit­i­cized the lyric as per­pet­u­at­ing stereo­types, while not sug­gest­ing that Jay-Z har­bors anti-Semitic views.

Jay-Z has brushed aside the crit­i­cism, say­ing the lyric in con­text is clearly meant to show the per­sis­tence of ex­ag­ger­ated images of eth­nic groups.

Jay-Z — who with his wife, pop su­per­star Bey­once, has been a close friend of former pres­i­dent Barack Obama — has played a hand­ful of re­cent shows and re­turns to tour­ing next month af­ter sev­eral years fo­cused on his busi­ness em­pire, most no­tably stream­ing ser­vice Ti­dal.


De­spite win­ning wide crit­i­cal ac­claim for “4:44”, Jay-Z de­voted rel­a­tively lit­tle time to his new work, in­stead work­ing through his best­known tracks.

He opened with the fast-charg­ing “Run This Town”, de­liv­ered a punch­ing ver­sion of “99 Prob­lems”, chilled out to reg­gae with sur­prise guest Damian Mar­ley and — in­evitably for a con­cert in New York — led a tri­umphant “Em­pire State of Mind”.

His mind also ap­peared on clas­sics when it came to his out­fit — a white T-shirt of The Bea­tles’ “Help!” with sleek Nike sneak­ers and a black cap.

Jay-Z made an­other ded­i­ca­tion on “Numb/En­core”, his col­lab­o­ra­tion with rock­ers Linkin Park. He mourned the group’s singer Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, who killed him­self in July, call­ing him “a beau­ti­ful man”.

Former Bea­tles drum­mer Ringo Starr has very lit­tle left to prove. Yet at 77, he’s about to re­lease his 19th solo al­bum, filled with nos­tal­gia about a glo­ri­ous past that he has of­ten sought to dis­tance him­self from.

Starr teams up with former band­mate Paul McCart­ney in the al­bum, en­ti­tled “Give More Love”.

Col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween the last two sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Bea­tles al­ways gen­er­ate me­dia frenzy. This time was no dif­fer­ent.

When Starr posted a pic­ture on Twit­ter of the two of them work­ing to­gether back in Fe­bru­ary, the news quickly spread.

“When we’re to­gether it’s good be­cause we spent a lot of very in­tense time to­gether, a lot of lov­ing time to­gether”, he told AFP at a Lon­don ho­tel.

“For me, he’s just an in­cred­i­ble hu­man be­ing, be­side an in­cred­i­ble bass player”, he added.

The al­bum fea­tures a blink and you’ll miss it mo­ment re­fer­ring to the “Fab Four”. In “Don’t Pass Me By”, Starr croons “I’d like to be un­der the sea” as the track slowly fades out.

“That’s a homage to one of my songs called ‘Oc­to­pus’s Gar­den’”, he ex­plained about the 1969 song in the fa­mous “Abbey Road” al­bum.

“I thought it was an in­ter­est­ing thing to put those songs I’ve done be­fore but with th­ese young bands”, he said.

Starr has in the past tried to play down the Bea­tles, a band that only ex­isted for eight years, but whose le­gacy has con­tin­u­ally over­shad­owed the work they each pro­duced post-split.

Born in 1940, Starr was only 29 years old when the Fab Four broke up and has there­fore spent most of his ca­reer as a solo artist.

Nowa­days, he seems to have made his peace with peo­ple for­ever want­ing to know more about the Liver­pudlian quar­tet.

Dressed in black jeans, bomber jacket and rock­star black sun­glasses, he looks re­mark­ably youth­ful as he walks around bump­ing el­bows with peo­ple in greet­ings and mak­ing his now fa­mous peace and love “V” sign.

A ger­mo­phobe, he bumps el­bows with peo­ple in greet­ings to avoid shak­ing hands.

The rem­i­nisc­ing in “Give More Love” goes fur­ther still than his time in his­tory’s top-sell­ing pop group.

“Elec­tric­ity” ref­er­ences the Liver­pool of his youth, and his Rory and the Hur­ri­canes’ band­mate Johnny Gui­tar.

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