BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Rapper Jay-Z responded to calls that he speak out against Barney’s, after the retailer detained several African-Americans in an act of racial profiling, with a statement today. The hip hop mogul, who has partnered with Barney’s on a new men’s collection in time for the holidays, called the incidents “an unacceptable attack on my ability to leverage my name for profit.”
“It’s 2013,” opened the statement “and in this day and age it is unconscionable that any retailer would partner with the Hova and think it is okay to harass my main audience. Racially profiling anyone – under any circumstance – is probably terrible. But it is absolutely a terrible way to sell a $700 raincoat or a $34,000 watch.“
“I expect anyone I do business with to be more sensitive to the important issue of moving as much merchandise as humanly possible,” he added.
When reached for comment, a representative from Barney’s said that while the retailer understood Mr. Z’s concerns, he had to understand that selling high end menswear is simply not as easy as displacing 2,000 Brooklynites and using over a billion and a half dollars in public funds to build a redundant multi-use arena just because he felt like it.
While Jay-Z has stated that all proceeds from his Barney’s collection would go to charity, observers have noted that there is more on the line than mere dollars and cents for the entertainer. “At this stage of his career, it is difficult to know where Jay-Z the person ends, and Jay-Z the brand begins,” said NYU Stern School of Business professor Lewis Pisotty. “He is more corporate synergizer than man.” PIsotty also noted that while some have come to think of Jay-Z aligning himself with the traditional minded Barney’s as a stretch, Mr. Z has used his name and/or music to sell over two dozen other products – from makeup to Budweiser to batteries.
“If his partnership with Barney’s falls through,” added Pisotty, “it would be a serious dent in his apparent quest to become the preeminent celebrity endorser, the likes no one has seen this side of Krusty the Klown.”