Hip-Hop has long served as a refuge for misogyny, homophobia, violence, and otherwise questionable behavior, but reciting lyrics from 21 Savage’s “ASMR” got NBA superstar LeBron James in some hot water this weekend over accusations of anti-semitism.
It’s well documented how much LeBron loves him some Hip-Hop. So much so that he frequently posts clips of himself turning up to whatever song is beating up his speakers at the time.
However, the Los Angeles Lakers forward picked the wrong lyrics to recite on Instagram to his 45.8 million followers when he shared himself delivering the following: “We getting that Jewish money, everything is Kosher.”
Which was a surprising gaffe considering the 3-time champion’s penchant for avoiding controversy.
“Surprised LeBron, who makes very few mistakes, put this out,” Action Network business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted in response. “Does quoting lyrics from a song absolve the person quoting from the responsibility behind the worlds? I’d argue no, especially with a following of 45 million.”
But keenly aware of how his video could be misinterpreted, and likely aware of how Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN in November for what were deemed racially insensitive remarks, LeBron apologized Sunday night.
After losing to the Memphis Grizzles, he told ESPN:
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone. That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
While Rovell accepted LeBron’s apology, he also took to Instagram to explain why he found the lyrics in question offensive to the Jewish community.
“’Getting that Jewish money’ might be seen as a compliment, as in Jews disproportionate to their population (1.4% of the US), on average, have a significant place among the nation’s most wealthy individuals,” Rovell wrote to his 31k followers. “The issue is that ‘Jewish money’ is actually a derogatory term that, throughout the history of the Jews, has led to hate. It contributed to hate by the Nazis and along with the long nose in cartoons, it contributed to a stereotype that Jews would do anything for money. I spent all day yesterday battling people on Twitter about why the lyrics were not OK and why quoting the lyrics didn’t absolve LeBron from responsibility.”
“ASMR” can be found on 21 Savage’s newly released album i am > i was.