US academic accuses Jay Z of being 'disingenious' after 'invoking' names of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown in defence of Tidal

Rapper made the remarks during a freestyle rap last Saturday

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The Independent Online

Jay Z has been criticised by an outspoken US academic who claims the rapper has conflated his new streaming service initially disappointing performance with the deaths of figures such as Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.

Last night Jay Z, 45, performed a freestyle rap, streamed exclusively by his new service Tidal, during his ‘B-sides’ concert last Saturday in which he responded to some critics of the new streaming software.

“You know when I work, I ain’t your slave, right? You know I ain’t shucking and jiving and high-fiving, and you know this ain’t back in the days, right?”

“Well I can’t tell how the way they killed Freddie Gray, right? Shot down Mike Brown how they did Tray, right?”

The lyrics provoked a response from well-known scholar Boyce D. Watkins who told TheWrap that Jay Z “invoking” the names of Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown was “somewhat disingenuous”.

Gray, Martin and Brown, who all died shortly after coming into contact with US police forces, have become emblematic of the current state of US policing and race relations within the US.

Dr Watkins, who is well known for speaking about social justice in the US, said: “He’s invoking the names of Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, which have become somewhat sacred in the black community, and you’re invoking those into this conversation you’re having about whether your multimillion-dollar corporation is going to be successful or not?”

The professor, currently a scholar at Syracuse university, added: “I think that that unfortunately can come off as somewhat disingenuous, because I don’t recall Jay Z ever really being that vocal, that irate over any issue that did not involve himself.”

Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service, which launched to impressive fanfare and with extensive celebrity endorsements, has failed to catch on – with some critics pointing out that its $20 monthly cost may be part of the problem.