Jay Z has found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. The rap star teamed up with high-end department store Barneys to sell his designer clothing line and raise money for his charity, the Shawn Carter Foundation, which helps underprivileged children go to college. Sounds like a winning situation, right?
Not so fast. The thing is, the luxury retailer was accused of racial profiling by black shoppers who said they were detained after legitimately making purchases, reports the Daily Mail, and Hov came under fire for going through with the partnership.
Instead of pulling the plug, Jay Z convinced Barneys to donate 100% of the proceeds from sales of the clothing line to fund scholarships (instead of the originally agreed-upon 25%), and announced that he would take a "leadership role and seat on a council specifically convened to deal with the issue of racial profiling," reports AllHipHop.
Jay Z also posted a response on his blog explaining his rationale. "I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?" he wrote. "I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change."
What's more, Jay Z convinced Barneys to donate 10% of the store's entire sales receipts to the charity on the day the clothing line premiered in November. As a result, more than $1 million has been raised for the Shawn Carter Foundation, which will be earmarked to provide higher education to kids from low-income families. Sales figures are still being tallied, but the New York Daily News reports that profits have exceeded the million-dollar mark. The collection, dubbed "A New York Holiday," included items ranging in price from a $70 cotton T-shirt to a $33,900 limited-edition Hublot watch.
In true Jay Z fashion, the rapper turned life into art, writing lyrics about the experience in a song collaboration with Rick Ross titled "The Devil Is A Lie":
"You seen what I did to the stop and frisk
Brooklyn on the Barney’s like we own the b---
Give the money to the hood, now we all win
Got that Barney’s floor lookin like a VIM"