WHEN HIP-HOP HAPPENS

Crazy In Love – Jiggaman and B Create an International Incident

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When I cavalierly reported that Hip-Hop mogul and businessman Jay-Z took his lovely wife, Beyonce to Havana, Cuba to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary, I really didn’t see it as a legitimate news item.

Outside of the fact that another celebrity couple had poo-pooed the United States ban on travel to Cuba, it wasn’t really that much of a story. Like always, money usually can buy you anything – even a trip into the forbidden zone just off the shore of Florida.

It actually wasn’t until my colleague, The Angry Engineer, balked at the idea just minutes later that it occurred to me that Big Pimpin’ in Cuba might not be kosher, by American standards.

We reported on the trip during our April 6, 2013 show, and because of his lack of care for millionaires, I was immediately jumped by my cast mate.

“Where do you jump on a plane in America and go to Cuba?” the Angry Engineer seethed. “Man, whatever. They had to fly out of Canada or Mexico. Your flight plan can’t leave the U.S. without special dispensation!

“They had to fly out of Canada or Mexico – your flight plan can’t leave the US – not in our lifetime, it’s not legal for Americans to go,” he mused. “They had to fly out of Canada or Mexico or they weren’t getting there.”

For a second, I wondered whether I was actually hearing pseudo American pride from one of the most unlikely sources in the world – our very militant Angry Engineer.

Nope, it was only a Hip-Hop harbinger of things to come.

To answer my Angry friend, Jay and B flew out of Miami with their Moms, for a four day retreat to Old Havana, various restaurants, art schools, a children’s theater and several dance clubs.

When I re-visited this story a day or two later, ABC’s Good Morning America, was showing the same old pictures that had kicked around social media. Our beloved Jiggaman was shown sporting a really bad knit polo shirt and Bermuda short set along with a hat that could only be deemed phat by the likes of Panama Jack?

Well, maybe he was channeling the younger him on the Reasonable Doubt album?

Beyonce went all Erykah Badu on us and walked along the mobbed out streets of Havana in an Afro-Caribbean dress and head rap.

It was right around that time, that I asked myself: “Oh snap, is the media trying to make this honeymoon jaunt into something more?”

Umm, hmmmmm.

Cuban Revolt?

rubio2Evidently the anniversary  trip peeved the likes of Republican it-boy, Senator Marco “I need a swig of bottled water” Rubio and two other Cuban-Americans, this time from the House of Representatives, who called for an official investigation into the legality of the visit.

And viola! It appeared Hip-Hop and its First couple – were embroiled in a full blown international incident – up in here, up in here!

Now you have to know what’s smoke and what’s fire in this information age, so before you go photo shopping photos of Hova and B with the word “Communists?” plastered all over them, remember this is not really unchartered territory.

The two dined at the La Guardia restaurant in Havana, that has a wall that would make Sal and Buggin Out of Do the Right Thing fame – blush; or maybe just choke Radio Raheem the f’out.

Pictures of past celebrity diners like Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Will Smith and James Belushi already adorn the walls of the restaurant in No-no-ville and there has never been a peep from Congress for any of them folks.

Shoot, James Caan, Sean Penn and Bill Murray have all been to Cuba – so what gives?

Well, Jay-Z and Beyonce are big supporters of President Obama, who’s a Democrat.

Hmmm – maybe that’s it?

That would mean for once it was not the revolutionary music itself that was pissing off Conservatives, but instead the way the Hip-Hop power couple and big time Obama supporters unapologetically strode through Cuban streets.

Um, on second thought, that was kinda Hip-Hoppy.

Darn you Hip-Hop.

All of your swagger and “I don’t give a damn what you think” attitude appears to be the culprit – AGAIN?

Oh well.

Cuban-American elected officials like Rubio, US Reps Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart demanded information about what type of special license the couple must have possessed in order to visit the Communist country.

Rubio said S. Carter and B’s honeymoon and cultural exchange was, “hypocritical.”

Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart called for an investigation.

In their letter the Congress members stated:

“We represent a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents.”

Everyone understands many people were hurt by Cuba’s change to Communism more than 60 years ago and faster than you can say Elian Gonzalez, we here in the land of the free and home of the brave are sensitive to those who have suffered at the hands of dictators and oppression.

But, this trip was sanctioned through the normal channels through which all such trip are sanctioned – The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The OFAC stated it provides licenses to visit Cuba for education and for people to people contact. By way of its guidelines:  things that “contribute to the development of civil society in Cuba.”

Funny how these three elected officials somehow missed information from another government agency.

The Congressional din was met by a Hip-Hop din of its own.

Cuban-American Rapper Pitbull wrote a song about the “incident.”

One of the lines from the song queries: “…would they have messed with Mr. Carter if he was white?”

“Politicians love to hate you/but then run away when it’s time to debate you,” Pitbull also rhymes in the tune.

Word Pitbull!

At the end of the day, Jay-Z and Beyonce are still killing it; Hip-Hop is still large and Jay still got the baddest chick in the game.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop, Beyonce and none of us have time to give a crap about an US trade embargo against Cuba. We’re Americans and obviously rebels – we’re going to do what we damn well please.

Back in the day a slow boat ride from the Bahamas could land you in Cuba, it really wasn’t that hard.
In those times, even a lowly American like me, could expect to be at a certain cookout every year and puff away defiantly on my Cuban cigar.

To better highlight that point and in true Hip-Hop fashion, Jay-Z wrote a song about, wanna hear it?

Here it goes…

Careful it’s explicit and you may just learn something.

Long live Hip-Hop!

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Masta Talka

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