Jay-Z has defended Dave Chappelle following the backlash over his latest comedy special that included an array of transphobic comments.
The Closer, which was released on Netflix on 5 October, has faced widespread criticism from the LGBTQ+ community because of the remarks it features.
“They cancelled J.K. Rowling — my God. [Effectively] she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as shit, they started calling her a TERF,” Chappelle says.
The term “TERF” references “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” whose views are widely seen as transphobic.
After making jokes about the bodies of trans women, he goes on to say: “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact.”
Despite this, Chappelle then claims that he is “not saying that to say trans women aren’t women” and that “people who watch his specials would know that I never had a problem with transgender people”.
This, along with Netflix’s response to criticism of the special, resulted in staff at the streaming giant staging a walkout in protest of it on 20 October.
Chappelle recently delivered Jay-Z’s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in which he called the artist an example of “Black excellence”.
In a Twitter Spaces conversation on 5 November, the 99 Problems hitmaker hailed the comedian as a “super genius” who is “brilliant”.
“I think that Dave is super brave and super genius,” Jay-Z said. “If you spend time with him, he’s brilliant.”
When asked a question by Craig Jenkins, a music critic at Vulture, the star acknowledged that Chappelle had “pushed a lot of buttons” before signalling his discomfort with some of his material through a series of unimpressed sounds.
Jay-Z calls Dave Chappelle “brilliant” while speaking on the controversial special “The Closer” pic.twitter.com/khAMFsTyMY
— 🦃jordan (@JustJordan_925) November 5, 2021
“But I think that what happens with true art is it has to cause conversation,” Jay-Z added. “And, you know, sometimes it’s gonna be abrasive and sometimes it’s gonna be off-putting to, y’know, to folks. But it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue about, you know, whatever the issue is.”
The rapper went on to state that disagreements are what help people come to the bottom of conflicting issues.
He said: “We have to speak with one another when we disagree. That’s how we get to the bottom of it, that’s what therapy is.
“You gotta sit there and deal with yourself in a real way, these are the things I’ve done and these are the things I gotta grow from and anything that doesn’t have that tension, it’s not gonna be real.”
Jay-Z then discussed how social media algorithms, according to him, restrict debate between people with opposing views.
“We had all these fake conversations for all this time about race until Trump was in office, then we got to see people for who they truly were,” he explained.
After being asked if he thought Chappelle’s comments were divisive, Jay-Z said he could not speak on behalf of the comedian.
“When you’re making great art, you have to be fearless and create something that you believe in,” he said.