In a Twitter Spaces conversation with Vulture‘s Craig Jenkins on Friday, the rapper was asked for his thoughts on The Closer, Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, which has sparked controversy — and a walkout from many of the streaming giant’s employees — with its transphobic material.
Asked by Jenkins if he had seen his friend’s comedy special, JAY-Z — there to promote his own Netflix project, The Harder They Fall, which he produced — shared that he had. He admitted that the “super-brave and super-genius” Chappelle had “pushed a lot of buttons” with the show.
“I watched it sometimes like, ‘Ah! Ah!’” he said, but ultimately defended Chappelle’s right as an artist to challenge certain values.
“I think what happens with true art is that it has to cause conversation,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s going to abrasive, something it’s going to be off-putting to folks. But it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue.”
The musician — who last week famously left Instagram after using the platform for just one day — continued, “These algorithms and things on these sites allow you to talk to people who agree with you. We have to speak to one another when we disagree… Anything that doesn’t have that tension, it’s not going to be real. 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… “
When pressed by Jenkins as to whether The Closer is “divisive,” JAY-Z declined to speak specifically to Chappelle’s work. But he responded, “I think 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. That’s what it’s about.”
Chappelle made a quick reference to the Closer backlash in his speech honoring JAY-Z at the Oct. 30 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, quipping, “I would like to apologize to… Nah, I’m just f***in’ with ya,” before going on to hail his friend as “hip-hop, forever and ever and a day.”