Back in January, a reporter attempted to ask Jay Z a question about Donald Trump during his appearance at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where he was on hand to promote Time: The Kalief Browder Story. But Jay Z, who publicly backed Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, shut the reporter down.
"Not going to answer that," he said.
Since then, Jay Z hasn’t offered up much in terms of his thoughts on Trump or his presidency, but he broke his silence on Trump during an interview with Clara Amfo for BBC Radio 1 this week.
Jay Z spoke about everything from his latest album, 4:44, to what family life is like for him these days. But he saved his most insightful comments for when Amfo asked him to share his thoughts on the current state of America. She referenced the unrest in some parts of the country, and Jay Z responded by saying that, despite what’s going on, he still has hope for the future.
"I believe that everything that happens in life is for your greatest good, and I don’t think that this is happening if we weren’t prepared to handle it," he said. "I’m just looking forward to what’s next after that, because usually when things are darkest, then light is on its way. I’m not fearful."
Without mentioning Trump by name, Jay Z also shared some pretty specific thoughts on the president and shared why he thinks he's going about doing his job all wrong.
"I believe that we are resilient, especially us as black people and especially the culture. We’ve been through so much more than this guy," he said. "This guy, I’m looking at him like, man, this is a joke, with all—I can’t even say with all due respect—with all disrespect. I just think he’s not a very sophisticated man, especially when it comes to the idea of until everyone is free, no one is free. Period. That’s just a fact. We are all linked some kind of way. So if you oppress a certain people, everyone is in danger, karmically and in real life. If I’m being oppressed and you have this big, nice mansion, I’m coming inside there. That’s gonna happen, that’s just how life is. So just on a practical level, that just makes sense. On a spiritual and karmic level, if we’re all children of God, then we’re all brothers and sisters, and at some point, if you’re doing that to your brother, then that can’t last."
Elsewhere in the interview, Jay Z—who also performed during his BBC Radio 1 stop—briefly mentioned that he's going to use everything that’s happening in the country as fuel for his next project. He said that he hasn’t started working on anything just yet, but he’s already thinking up ways to use the issues Americans are dealing with in his music. "I have some ideas," he said.
And towards the end of the interview, Jay Z discussed politics in general and said that, while he doesn’t consider himself "politically astute," he does recognize the same problems that many other people see when it comes to the American political system. Specifically, he takes issue with politicians who refuse to cross party lines and vote on laws that are for the greater good of the American people.
"Politics is a divisive thing," he said. "I guess it’s in place so people can have checks and balances. You have one side versus another side. But what it does typically is it doesn’t work the way it was designed. It was designed to work so you could have one side Democrats to check Republicans. But it don’t really work that, because what happens is people vote along their party lines and they start talking to each other like, 'I’m not going to cross the aisle,' even though there’s people attached to these laws. I think they’ve forgotten that piece, that these things are going to affect real-life people. When you put in, like, prison reform, people are going to jail. Families are being broke up and fathers are away from their children and the family structure is broken, so that kid grows up and that kid gets into trouble and he goes to jail and the cycle is vicious. I think we’ve forgotten that, as a government, that there are real people attached to these laws that you don’t want to vote on because you’re not a Democrat and you don’t want to go against your party."
Hov also took the time to speak about his family, and specifically that unexpected Blue Ivy freestyle on "Blue’s Freestyle/We Family."
“I taped her doing that. She literally did that one time. That was one time, five minutes. It was right at the end of the album, I had just recorded ‘Family Feud’ and I was happy with the recording, so I said, ‘Man, bring up the ‘We Family’ track, I’ll try to improve on that.’ And I bought it up and I couldn’t come up with anything,” he said, with a laugh. “So now I’m playing the track, and she was listening, so she probably was like, ‘Here, pop, this is how you do it.’ So I left her alone, she climbed up on the stool, put on the headphones and then she just started going. I don’t know what she was saying, but ‘never seen a ceiling in my whole life’ is the most genius line on the album, I must say. But the rest of that, she was just freestyling and she was just finding really good pockets. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this kid!’”
Amfo then went on to ask Jay Z about how his life as a father, and he admitted to singing Frozen's "Let It Go" with Blue and to being open to doing anything to appease his young daughter. “I’ve done crazy things, I’ve dressed up like a Ken and all that. I’m her dad, so anything that has my ego attached to it, that’s out the window. I’m not against wearing a tiara, but she doesn’t put me through those sorts of things.”
Jay Z also spoke on the tragic death of Chester Bennington. "Mental health is a real thing. You never know what people going through," he said. "You think because they're performers and he sold 14 million records, that doesn't equate to happiness.
You can watch Jay Z’s entire BBC Radio 1 interview above and watch him perform "Family Feud" and "Numb/Encore" below. R.I.P. Chester.