Jay Z declares the War on Drugs “an epic fail” via an illustrated video op-ed for The New York Times, created by Richard Nixon featuring artwork from Molly Crabapple.
The clip tracks the short but devastating history of the War on Drugs since it was significantly ramped up in the Eighties under Ronald Reagan.
In the four-minute video, Jay Z talked about the inequality of the anti-drug campaign, from his coming-of-age in NYC in the ’80s amid “Reaganomics”and the end of social safety nets, where “young men like me who hustled became the sole villains” and persisting issues that differ by state despite progressive movements toward marijuana legalization and addiction aid.
He particularly focuses on the higher rate of mass incarceration concerning men of color.
He points out white businessmen are profiting off the decriminalised cannabis trade, while black men with jail records are barred from participating in the industry.
“Why are white men poised to get rich doing the same thing African-Americans have been going to prison for?” he says.
Jay Z has rapped in many of his songs about his own drug-dealing past in New York City’s Brooklyn borough.