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JAY-Z Flips the Script on Racist Cartoons for His "The Story of OJ" Video

Animated Jay walks through America's shameful past and present.

Animated Jay walks through America's shameful past and present.

Lawrence Burney

JAY-Z's 4:44 is already platinum. The Brooklyn native's 13th studio album has earned rave reviews since its release last week, not only for its show of his vulnerability, but also for the valuable lessons he's trying to get across. One of the most coherent lessons that is taught on the album comes from track "The Story of OJ." In the song, Jay presumably takes inspiration from ESPN's OJ: Made In America documentary that was released last year. Among the many quotable moments in the film was a scene in which OJ Simpson, during a post-game interview centered around racial tensions in America, said "I'm not black, I'm OJ." That quote inspired JAY-Z to make a song pointing out that no matter how high on the social ladder a black person may climb, their racial identity is not erased, especially in the eyes of white people.

That message is reiterated in Jay's video for the song, which is now available to everyone (not just Tidal users). In it, JAY-Z is animated in likeness to the racist depictions of black people in early-to-mid 20th century cartoons. Walking through town, cartoon Jay confronts these landmarks of America's racist history by sitting on a "Colored" bus, eating watermelon, and picking cotton. There are also cartoon cameos made by celebrated black entertainers Nina Simone (whose "Four Women" song is sampled in the track) and Josephine Baker. Watch the video above.

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