JAY-Z Defends "Brave" Dave Chappelle Amid 'The Closer' Backlash

The rapper said the controversial comedian "pushed a lot of buttons" with his Netflix special

BY Allie GregoryPublished Nov 8, 2021

Amid never-ending criticism and praise for Dave Chappelle's controversial Netflix special The Closer, JAY-Z has weighed in on the comedian's "super genius" and "brave" standup set that many have deemed transphobic.

Speaking during a Twitter Space live with Netflix's Strong Black Lead account, the rapper acknowledged that Chappelle "pushed a lot of buttons" with The Closer, and argued that "great art is divisive."

"I think what happens with true art is that it has to cause conversation," said JAY. "Sometimes it's going to be abrasive, something it's going to be off-putting to folks. But it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue."

Hova continued on to defend "divisive" art, arguing that "when you're making great art, you have to be fearless and create something that you believe in. That's what it's about."

The rapper likened the controversy to the ongoing political division in the US, explaining that "we have to speak with one another when we disagree."

"Anything that doesn't have that tension, it's not going to be real," he said. "We had fake conversations all this time before Trump was in office, then we got to see people for who they really were. And then we got to have real conversations."

The Netflix special has ignited controversy in the weeks since it first aired back in October. After Chappelle dubbed himself "Team TERF" in defence of known transphobe, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, calls from Netflix employees to "eliminate references/imagery of transphobic titles or talent inside of the workplace" and "acknowledge the harm and Netflix's responsibility for this harm from transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community" erupted during a massive walkout on October 20. 

Chappelle has largely eluded criticism levelled against him, but claims he agreed to "speak to the transgender employees of Netflix." Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos initially defended Chappelle and his special, but later admitted that he "screwed up" in his handling of employee complaints

Hear JAY weigh in on the controversy below.

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