Jay-Z’s Freestyle Rap Tribute To Nipsey Hussle Encouraging People To ‘Gentrify Your Own Hood’ Sparks Debate

Jay-Z wants to “gentrify” the hood.

The hip-hop mogul recently performed a touching freestyle in tribute to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, but a couple of his rhymes sparked debate. Jay encouraged minorities to “gentrify [their] own hood,” referencing Nipsey Hussle’s efforts to build up his neighborhood of Crenshaw in Los Angeles.

People on Twitter were angered by the remark and bashed Jay-Z for using the questionable term. 

The term “gentrify” is loaded with negative connotation — often associated with non-POCs who move into ethnic communities. Gentrification implies a cultural change or drastic shift in a community that leads to higher costs of living.

But was Jay-Z really advocating for that ??

Ehhh, probably not. It sounds like Jay used a bit of wordplay to make his point about community development. If communities invest in themselves with local businesses and legacy institutions, they’re better protected against the threat of outside influences, aka gentrification.

However, many on Twitter took offense over the rapper’s usage of “gentrify.”

Others defended Jay-Z, but acknowledged his regrettable word choice.

But many pointed out blatant hypocrisy on Jay-Z’s part.

Either way, Jay-Z’s “gentrify your own hood” line remains totally confusing.

People continue to debate the precise meaning of “gentrify.”

Given the full context of Jay-Z’s freestyle, it’s clear he wants to empower minority communities, not displace them.

But the billionaire’s poor choice of words and involvement in gentrification projects like Brooklyn’s Barclays Center cast serious doubt on his privileged perspective.

Next time, let’s hope Jay-Z cracks open a thesaurus and picks a different word.

In the meantime, for more historical perspective on gentrification, check out P.E. Moskowitz’s How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood.