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Jay-Z raps back at Cuba trip critics: 'Boy from the hood but got White House clearance'

Jay-Z and Beyonce came under fire this week for a trip they took to Cuba -- a vacation that, as I wrote on Tuesday, underscores the rather silly nature of the restrictions imposed on Americans' ability to visit the island nation. The visit has several conservative lawmakers up in arms. Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for instance, said that she found it "very disconcerting that these two mega stars would go down to Cuba and vacation as if they were in a tropical paradise and not say one word about the brutality their hosts display against all pro democracy activists."

Well today Jay-Z did speak out -- but against his critics, not the Castro regime. The response, naturally, came in the form of a new song -- aptly titled "Open Letter." 

 


Jay's track release comes shortly after news that he is starting a sports management company -- a move that has forced him to sell his shares in the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball team he helped move from New Jersey to his native borough. In "Open Letter" he takes on both his critics in Congress and those who have raised eyebrows at his surprising entrance into sports management. "I done turned Havana to Atlanta/Guayabera shirts and bandanas," Jay points out.

Addressing the likes of Ros-Lehtinen and her allies in Congress, he has some less-than-kind words: "Boy from the hood but got White House clearance/Sorry y'all, I don't agree with y'all appearance/Politicians never did shit for me/Except lie to me, distort history/Wanna give me jail time and a fine/Fine, let me commit a real crime/I might buy a kilo for Chief Keef/Out of spite, I just might flood these streets."

He also some advice for President Obama: "Obama said chill, you gonna get me impeached/But you don't need this shit anyway/Chill with me on the beach."

Hey, Obama is finishing up a second term. Here's hoping that some day soon, we see the lame-duck president smoking Cuban cigars on a beach somewhere with Jay-Z.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

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Malawi accuses Madonna of emotional blackmail

Emotional blackmail. No, it's not Madonna's new hit single, but rather one of the accusations hurled at the pop star in a statement released by the Malawi State House on Thursday. 

Earlier this week, we wrote about the material girl's less-than-stellar trip to the country, which included a series of faux pas that angered and offended the country's president, Joyce Banda. Today, tensions between the government and Madonna escalated as Malawi released a comprehensive document detailing its grievances. The full text was published in the Nyasa Times, but here are some of the highlights:

Madonna feels that the Malawi Government and its leadership should have abandoned everything and attended to her because she believes she is a music star turned benefactor who is doing Malawi good....

[I]n the feeling of Madonna, the Malawi Government and its leadership should have rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour because she believes that as a musician, the whiff of whose repute flies across international boundaries, she automatically is candidate for VVIP [see definition] treatment.

The document then goes on to "put the record straight" with 11 bullet points. Number three accuses Madonna of emotional blackmail regarding her adoption of two Malawian children:

It, therefore, comes across as strange and depressing that for a humanitarian act, prompted only by her, Madonna wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude. Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can't be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes.

Number seven, meanwhile, draws our attention to the gaggle of "equally dazzling" celebrities who have visited Malawi without demanding star treatment, including Chuck Norris and Bono. Ouch.

Number nine may be the most cutting:

For her to accuse [President Banda's sister] Mrs. Oponyo for indiscretions that have clearly arisen from her personal frustrations that her ego has not been massaged by the state is uncouth, and speaks volumes of a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage.

Madonna responded with a statement on her website that called the allegations against her "ridiculous," adding that she was "saddened that Malawi's President Joyce Banda has chosen to release lies." In what could perhaps be construed as further emotional blackmail, the singer then went on to list her accomplishments in the country, which include raising "millions of dollars in Malawi to support orphans and vulnerable children." I wouldn't bet on Malawi's leaders sending a thank-you note. 

AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/Getty Images