The Story of OJ by Jay-Z is a 2017 track from Jay-Z’s controversial album “4:44”. Jay-Z argues that our perception of a post-racial world where race is not a problem is false. Jay-Z Has a few main arguments, which demonstrates the reality of the modern black experience. He Argues that a Post Racial world doesn’t exist because every achievement, accomplishment, and success can not upend the label of being black. The ones who have tried ultimate find themselves discussing race. Jay-Z overarches the entire video with historical context to emphasize the depth of black history depression, thereby demonstrating that race is not just a biological difference it’s a social contract that is categorized African Americans for hundreds of years. one way they did so was through the enforcement of stereotypes.
The first lines of the song are Excerpts from Nina Simone’s “4 Woman”. A song that discusses four stereotypes of Black Woman. References like Aunt Sarah must reference reinforces the Imagery from the music video for “The Story Of Oj”. In my opinion, its an imitation of 1930’s stereotypes to the images that Simone sings about. Jay-z decided to go with Minstrel animation. unlike blackface shows Animation was able to exaggerate the black body in ways traditional minstrel shows could not. It depicted black bodies with enormous lips and eyes, mouths big enough to engulf whole watermelons, and with bodies jointed so loosely. Often many early animations like 1935’s “Little Black Sambo” depicted plantations, jungles, and ghettos in order to demonstrate the innate savagery that black people are born with
Jay-Z capitalizes on this history depicting himself has “JAYBO” a play of The Stereotype character “Sambo”. He also parallels himself by recreating the most notable seen from any depiction of sambo by including his iconic Watermelon scene. Spite this deep history, some black celebrities have attempted to go above their culture claiming that success is through hard work and determination, and that race is not a factor. In many ways, this rationale makes sense, because being labeled or pigeonholed into a race often that qualifies the enchantments of success, the idea the race aided you achievements by lessening your hard work and dedication to your craft. In a sense, connecting your self to a race can hurt you. Often celebrities want to be considered Americans, not of their race.
Jay-z showcases his argument with OJ Simpson who before his trial was notably devoid of his race. He was the first black athlete to do advertisements with RC Cola and Hertz, large brands that seldom cast black people. He lived in Brentwood, an upper-income white neighborhood in Los Angeles. He never used his podium to speak about race, even during the years of heightened racial tension with instances like the Rodney King Beating in 1992. In every sense of his lifestyle, society viewed him as white. OJ ties his values and achievements to the individual, not the group or race. A behavior that is largely responsible for the continuation of a lack of large black success. Celebrities like OJ Simpson are not willing to lift others that come from the same background as them.
In October of 2016, Ta-Nehisi Coates composed a piece called ‘What O.J. Simpson Means to Me’ for The Atlantic. In the article, Coates summarizes how Simpson’s swelling fame made O.J. the “special dark whiz” in the nation during the 1970s:
‘An old friend of Simpson’s says in Made in America that Simpson was ‘seduced by white society.’ Perhaps. But the seduction was mutual, and he used his football fame to gain access to white patrons eager to expose him to the finer things in life. ‘I took him places where I think very few black men had ever been,’ Frank Olson, the former CEO of Hertz, says in the film. Simpson mingled with wealthy entrepreneurs at golf clubs where he was one of the few black members, or the first and only black member. He gave them the thrill of convening with a real sports hero at his mansion, Rockingham, nestled in the wealthy white suburb of Brentwood. Simpson’s social circle helped him amass a small fortune. By the 1990s, his net worth was estimated to be $10 million. He was the CEO of O. J. Simpson Enterprises, which owned stakes in hotels and restaurants, and he sat on four different corporate boards,’ composed Coates.
Leaving the 1960s, a period of profound racial pressure, Simpson appeared to be the uncommon Black Football Player that associated with white America as well as really flourished doing as such. O.J. would in the long run utilize his recently discovered acclaim in Los Angeles’s high societies of white networks to remove himself from his skin tone.
‘Other prominent athletes of [Simpson’s] day had refused to serve during the war in Vietnam (Muhammad Ali) and raised their fists in protest of racism at the Olympics (Tommie Smith, John Carlos). Simpson had done no such thing, instead preferring the comforts that came with the adoration of white America,’ composed Maxwell Strachan of the Huffington Post in 2016. ‘Simpson was beautiful. He was beloved. He was the first black athlete to successfully transition into a corporate spokesman. But what Simpson seemed to most want was the one thing he would never quite obtain: racial transcendence, both on and off the field. To be seen not as black, but simply as O.J.’
The facts confirm that Simpson was not keen on blending in racial discussion. At the point when Ali chose to not acknowledge his draft into the Vietnam war, he was supported by other unmistakable Black men and women at what is known as the ‘Ali Summit.’ Bill Russell, Jim Brown and Lew Alcindor, who has since changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabar, sat beside Ali as he clarified why he was standing firm against the draft and the war in Vietnam. Simpson was likewise a conspicuous dark competitor at the time however was remarkably not in participation. As per Nate Peterson of CBSSports, ‘Simpson was approached by activist Dr. Harry Edwards, who urged him to stand with his fellow black athletes. But Edwards says Simpson didn’t see himself as a black athlete, telling Edwards: ‘I’m not black, I’m O.J.”
Even with O.J’s initial status, Jay-Z notes that success and unsuccess are not so binary, the successful black man is different from a successful man. Because of our society’s judgment, black people are held to a higher standard and larger responsibility so if these celebrities get in trouble or accused of wrongdoing that Society swiftly rejects them. Its a higher standard of judgment that highlights Jay-Z’s main argument that black history is simply inescapable from black identity. black celebrities are almost forced to be a representation of the race. Jay-Z’s video leaves us with a bleak outlook on a falsely claimed post-racial world, with his intentions forcing us to not forget or hide, but to confront our race and identity.
Jay-Z has been a music symbol for over Twenty Years, and it appears so in this music video. Utilizing a questionable character like O.J. Simpson to clarify the significance of money related duty and paying reverence to the way of life, while utilizing visuals to speak to those goals is glorious in ‘The Story of O.J.’ It’s a profound plunge, however in some cases you need to plunge to discover treasure.