Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” critiques the current state of black wealth in America as well as blatant discrimination in the entertainment industry on all levels; which all stem from America’s past regarding racism in visuals and performance. Such as “Sambo art” which depicted racist caricatures and stereotypes; Jay-Z approaches this in the music video for the song with watermelon stereotype associations. Using it to his advantage to portray his message and show his thoughts. Being upfront about this matter is best for creating awareness and change in a saturated industry.

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“I’m not black, I’m O.J.” is a famous line from Simpson’s case, and Jay-Z uses it to show the ignorance of the situation. That no matter what your financial status is, or whether you are a celebrity or not, you are still black; Jay-Z wants to build off of this concept and truth and create a message throughout the song. The message being that the African-American community needs to push forward and lead with authenticity; in-other-words, do not get lost in the fallacies and sociological imagination of the media, create and build your own destiny and identity while being true to yourself and those around you.


Jay-Z want to see the “black community” in America, in general, prosper and succeed. He uses stereotypes and stigmas to shine a bright light on what he has been observing throughout his life and what he believes should be addressed:


“Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood

That’s how you rinse it”

I bought every V12 engine

Wish I could take it back to the beginnin’

I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo

For like two million

That same building today is worth twenty-five million

Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo”


Jay-Z, through personal experience, is warning the audience to be careful and smart with their money, that flashy materials are not worth losing your wealth. Also, to watch around you and learn from others success.


“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…”


The stereotypes of Jewish success in America drive Jay-Z’s point that people must start somewhere to gain success and wealth, so why not do it the right way? Jay-Z, in his interview with Dean Baquet of New York Times Magazine, states that this line is a general statement and needs to be kept in the same context of his music video as well as his other lines and references.


The last line I want to refer to in order to finalize Jay-Z’s critiques in “The Story of O.J.” is the last line of his last verse:


“Y’all on the ‘gram holdin’ money to your ear

There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah”


Jay-Z in his final words of his verses, addresses the social media aspect of fame and wealth. That if you are one of the types of people flashing their money on Instagram, you are misled and have greater risk of downfall because of not being focused on the right things. Real money isn’t seen on Instagram, it’s much deeper than that. Jay-Z does a great job of subtlety making a critique while being blunt about the truth in his lyrics.

Full lyrics to the song can be found at:



– Justin Leon