Jay Z Issues Eloquent Defense in Barneys Debate, as Kanye West Fumes

Hova asks why he's being "demonized," 'Ye goes off onstage in Las Vegas

jay z, barneys, kanye west, racial-profiling
Jay Z Photo by Getty Images
Kyle McGovern WRITTEN BY
Kyle McGovern

Jay Z is currently under fire for maintaining his business relationship with Barneys in spite of the company facing racial profiling accusations, and now Hova has broken his silence on the issue, saying he's being "demonized" simply for waiting to make an informed decision. The Magna Carta Holy Grail master released a statement on his Life + Times website on October 26 defending his choice to continue with the partnership, which will soon yield a holiday collection that reportedly ranges from a $70 T-shirt to a $33,900 watch.

"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion," Jay says in the statement. "I haven't made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced, thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately? The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions, and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn't want to make without the full facts."

According to reports, two African-American shoppers — 19-year-old Trayon Christian and 21-year-old Kayla Phillips — were questioned by New York City police in two separate incidents after making expensive purchases at the high-end retailer. Christian alleges that he was detained by NYPD officers who didn't believe he could afford a $349 belt. Now he's filed a lawsuit against Barneys and the NYPD (via the New York Daily News); Phillips recently filed a legal document saying she plans to sue the NYPD for $5 million (also via the Daily News). A Change.org petition that currently has more than 16,000 supporters demands that Jay Z "end all partnerships with Barneys New York," saying that the King of Brooklyn should be "appalled by Barneys actions."

Jay, a.k.a. Shawn Carter, argues in his statement that if he were to sever ties with Barneys, the only people it would truly affect would be those who stand to benefit from the upcoming fashion collection's charity efforts. "I am not making a dime from this collection," Jay Z says. "I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported. I need to make that fact crystal clear. The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary and the foundation is receiving 25% of all sales from the collaboration, 10% of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys. This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning."

He adds, "Making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project, wouldn’t hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter, but all the people that stand a chance at higher education. I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn’t harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration. I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it's towards, aren't I committing the same sin as someone who profiles? I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position."

The ongoing controversy also prompted some fiery remarks from Jay's Watch the Throne co-star Kanye West, who name-dropped Barneys onstage in Las Vegas on October 25 while reciting lyrics to his Yeezus highlight "New Slaves." Speaking to the audience while wearing a mask, West said (via AllHipHop), "That's that broke nigga racism. Don't touch anything in the store. Excuse me, that's that 'Can I help you sir?' That's that racial profiling out in front of Barneys and shit. Talking about, 'Did you steal that?'"

'Ye also went on to criticize the media, Hollywood elites, and "corrupt leaders." Watch footage from his Vegas concert below, after reading Jay Z's entire statement regarding the Barneys debate.

This collaboration lives in a place of giving and is about the Foundation. I am not making a dime from this collection; I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported. I need to make that fact crystal clear. The Shawn Carter Foundation is the beneficiary and the foundation is receiving 25% of all sales from the collaboration, 10% of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys. This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning. My idea was born out of creativity and charity… not profit.

I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately? The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions, and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts. Making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project, wouldn’t hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter, but all the people that stand a chance at higher education. I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn’t harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration.

I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles? I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change. – Shawn "JAY Z" Carter

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