Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is one the first established recording artists to refer to the January 6 insurrection in a song. The Roc Nation head addresses the American political system on his “What It Feels Like” collaboration with the late Nipsey Hussle.
“You know they hate when you become more than they expect. You let them crackers storm your Capitol, put they feet up on your desk. And yet you talking tough to me, I lost all my little respect,” raps Jay on “What It Feels Like.” The track appears on Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album.
On 1/6, right-wing supporters of then-president Donald Trump violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building in DC in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win in the 2020 presidential election.
Five people died as a result of the assault and over 140 were injured. Trump was later impeached for inciting an insurrection, but he was acquitted in the Senate with 57 senators voting guilty and 43 senators voting not guilty.
During an episode of The Beat with Ari Melber, the MSNBC host covered Jay-Z’s take on the Capitol riots. The attorney/journalist did a segment on the show about “What It Feels Like” and how the Brooklyn-bred emcee’s bars shine a light on the systemic political and social problems in America.
“It’s striking to hear Jay-Z, speaking to an audience of millions, really in the United States and around the world, referring to this very incident to call out what he sees as the hypocrisy of the system,” said Melber. “The brand new song is called ‘What It Feels Like.’”
Melber continued, “It refers, as well, to the infamous image of [Capitol rioter] Richard Barnett’s feet up on the [Speaker of the House Nacy Pelosi’s] desk, and Jay-Z discusses losing respect for a system that would ever allow any of this. And on this topic, Jay gets the last word.”
This is not the first time Ari Melber incorporated Hip Hop into the content on The Beat. The 40-year-old Seattle native regularly uses rap lyrics to emphasize a point. He has also invited numerous rap stars – such as Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, Joe Budden, Jadakiss, and Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) – to the program to talk about various issues.