Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Jay-Z is black black."

So on the one hand, Senator Harry Reid predicted that Obama's light skin color and non-Negro tongue would allow him to win over white America. On the other hand, journalist Lisa Taddeo, in a profile of Jay-Z for Esquire, indicates that it's the rapper's skilled duality and authenticity that allows him to win over "white and black and Latino and other" America.

The paragraph from Taddeo that's getting the most discussion online at the moment is this one:
Jay-Z is black black. He is old-school double-dark-chocolate-chunk black. He is black the way Labatt is blue. He is not white black, Barack black, like our president. Or the kind of black that doesn't curse and deplores the n-word, the genteel black, like Oprah. He is, arguably, the first black-black guy to cross over into Oprah-land and Bill Clintonworld without making the Oprah-sized no-look-back forward flip that means you're selling not necessarily your soul but perhaps something fleshier, a little more external.

That paragraph is provocative in what it suggests about Jay-Z's degrees and trajectory of blackness in comparison to folks who are presumably black lite, such as Oprah and Obama. However, what's also notable about Taddeo's article relates to the backstory that she provides concerning how Steve Stoute, one of Jay-Z partners, has worked to make someone who is "black black" consumable and desirable even to white America.

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