Jay Z defends ‘brave’ Dave Chappelle after Netflix special controversy

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Jay Z and Dave Chappelle

Jay Z hailed Chappelle as ‘super genius’ (Picture: Getty Images)

Jay Z has stepped up to support his friend Dave Chappelle following the controversy over the comedian’s Netflix special. 

Chappelle, 48, came under fire last month after the release of his new stand-up special, The Closer. The comic legend was accused of transphobia after saying ‘gender is a fact’ in support of Harry Potter author JK Rowling who made controversial comments about the transgender community. 

On Friday, Jay Z – real name Shawn Carter – was asked for his thoughts on Chappelle’s jokes during a Twitter space conversation. The rapper admitted that while he cringed at times during the special, he ultimately believes it’s important to spark discussions about such topics. 

The 51-year-old said: ‘He’s super brave and super genius, you spend time with him and he’s brilliant. 

‘I think he pushed a lot of buttons. I watched sometimes like “ugh”. But I think what happens with true art is it has to cause a conversation and sometimes it’s going to be abrasive, sometimes it’s going to be off-putting to folks, but I think it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue no matter what the issue is.’ 

In the audio clip obtained by TMZ, Jay Z continued: ‘These algorithms on these sites allow people to talk people that agree with you. 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. 

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Dave Chappelle performing stand-up

Chappelle was accused of making transphobic comments (Picture: WireImage)

‘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.’ 

When asked particularly if he thought Chappelle’s comments were divisive, Jay Z replied: ‘I don’t want to answer for Dave Chappelle – so I’m not speaking specifically to his work – I think that great art is divisive. Some people like it, some people hate it. When you’re making great art you have to be fearless and create something that you believe in.’ 

Chappelle has since doubled down on his jokes but did say he was willing to meet Netflix’s trans employees to discuss the backlash. The streaming service has backed Chappelle and refused to remove The Closer despite a petition. 

Last week, Chappelle honoured Jay Z at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony where the rapper was inducted.

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