Hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Beyoncé wanted to go somewhere unique for their vacation. They didn’t want anything too clichéd or expected, so they spent their vacation in Cuba. However, their vacation created quite a stir after their return back to the United states.
The U.S. and Cuba have never been on the greatest terms politically. Strict policies have been enforced ever since the U.S. issued an embargo against Cuba, a prohibition of trade or commerce, until they make steps towards democratization and the protection of human rights.
Even tourism has been strictly regulated; Americans may only travel to Cuba with a licensed educational group, which was Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s only option.
However, their trip to Cuba was not the true source of controversy. It was what Jay-Z did and said after the trip.
Jay-Z rapped about Cuba and his lyrics became a topic of debate.
“I done turned Havana into Atlanta…,” Jay-Z said in the song. “Boy from the hood, but got White House clearance.”
Jay-Z made it sound like he received some sort of special treatment. People thought what he was rapping was true. Many were upset that the couple went to a country the U.S. do not support.
The White House denied that they had given him any special clearance.
President Barack Obama made it clear that the White House was unaware of their trip. According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama said, “We’ve got better things to do.”
It’s no surprise that a rapper included lyrics about something that never happened, but his lyrics didn’t stop there.
Jay-Z also rapped about the politics between Cuba and the United States. His lyrics have caused many to consider him a hypocrite.
“Politicians never did s**t for me except lie to me, distort history,” said Jay-Z in his rap. “They wanna give me jail time and a fine.”
Jay-Z openly questioned the U.S. for sanctioning Cuba.
CLU sophomore David Krause said Jay-Z might not understand or agree with the reasons behind the embargo.
“Jay-Z was too busy being famous and having a nice vacation to actually notice any suffering,” said Krause. “There is so much there that needs to be questioned.”
Gregory Freeland, chair of California Lutheran University’s political science department, recently led a travel seminar course to Cuba.
“There is so much that can be learned from Cuba,” said Freeland. “There is a rich culture, but there is also so much to learn about a country whose government is near opposite to our own.”
Jay-Z rapped about a subject I don’t think he truly understands, but Freeland agrees he does have a right to an opinion.
“Although he is rapping on a controversial subject, as an artist, he has every right to say what he wishes in his songs,” said Freeland.
“It was a little extreme of him to make the comments he did,” said sophomore Jordan Oram. “He needs to know all that happened before saying anything.”
Strict laws were issued concerning Cuba for important reasons, and there is no telling if or when these laws may be lifted.
Published April 24, 2013