As a lyrical icon, Jay Z has seen the evolution of hip-hop firsthand. So much so that he believes the culture can be labeled as a genre with a far reaching positive impact that rivals the influence of past leaders.
“It’s a strong one,” Jay Z said in an interview for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). “I think that hip hop has done more for racial relations than most cultural icons. Save Martin Luther King, because his dream speech we realized when President Obama got elected.”
“This music didn’t only influence kids from urban areas,” Jay Z continued while noting that hip-hop isn’t limited to any one group, age range, background or geographic location. “People listen to this music all around the world, and [they] took to this music.”
Jay Z’s interview on OWN is part of the network’s month-long celebration honoring civil rights legends. The celebration comes amid the ,the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In addition to the impact of hip-hop, Jay Z touched on racism. According to the rap mogul, racism is a learned behavior that becomes difficult to teach in a home where hip-hop artists are respected and celebrated.
“Racism is taught in the home,” he explained. “It’s very difficult to teach racism when your kid looks up to Snoop Doggy Dogg.”
Jay Z goes on to point out that hip-hop music has enabled people to come together today for a common love of music rather than remain separated while partying in different clubs.
“Before, people partied in separate clubs. There were hip-hop clubs and there were techno clubs,” the rapper mentioned. “Now, people party together, and once you have people partying, dancing, and singing along to the same music, then conversations naturally happen after that.”
“We all realize that we’re more alike than we’re separate,” Jay Z added.