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Jay-Z talks the streets, defends Kanye and Obama

Associated Press | 11/23/2010, 6:23 a.m.
Decoded, Spiegel and Grau, $18.89, 336 pp.

Most people grow up and just smoke weed. You just smoke weed and think, “OK, I’ll keep weed in my pocket.” Now that you’re a celebrity it’s a whole different sort of thing ... Celebrities need to be conscious and know who they are, because the same choices they made as a civilian will cost them years as a celebrity.

What do you make of President Barack Obama’s recent struggles?

I believe the same thing about Barack that I believed at day one. What he represents is bigger than any political agenda that he can pass across the House, Senate or whatever. I think that right now he’s going through a difficult period because people are putting the last eight years on his table and they’re judging him by it. You can’t expect a man to clean up eight years of mess in two years; it’s just bad math. It’s impossible.

You talk in the book about how you agreed with what Kanye West had to say about President George W. Bush, but Kanye recently apologized for saying Bush didn’t care about black people during Hurricane Katrina. What are your thoughts on that?

I think what Kanye went through was, he himself became that, over the Taylor Swift incident. People said he was racist. And he’s not a racist person, so it made him reflect on the comments that he made. But I 100 percent agreed with the comments that he made, because again ... it felt like it was being done to black people.

Like all you saw on the news was black people on the news with help signs and all this stuff, and then you have this picture of the commander in chief, who we all rely on, just flying by. It’s like, What is that? If that had happened anywhere else besides New Orleans, would the response (have) been so slow? Would Bush (have) been on the ground?

You have to ask these sort of questions. Just the fact that he thinks that the worst thing that happened to him is Kanye saying something about him. Like, what? That alone shows you where his mind is. Are you kidding me?

Associated Press