Published March 24, 2005
NEW YORK – Over the years, the rapper Jadakiss (search) has depicted a world of drug dealing, murder and other assorted mayhem without raising many eyebrows.
But seven words in his new song "Why" -- "Why did Bush knock down the towers?" -- has gotten Jadakiss the most mainstream attention, and criticism, of his career.
"It caught the ear of white America," he said proudly during a phone interview with The Associated Press. "It's a good thing. No matter what you do, somebody's not going to like it, but for the most part, most people love the song."
Not everyone loves it. Bill O'Reilly (search) called Jadakiss a "smear merchant" this week, and some radio stations have edited out the line in the song, in which Jadakiss talks about perceived injustices, conspiracies and problems affecting the world. MTV (search) says it is playing an edited version of the video, as it was sent by his label, Interscope.
Jadakiss says fans have demanded to hear the original version.
"In the beginning, they would edit, but after that, everybody called back for the version that was calling Bush (out)," he says.
Jadakiss doesn't really believe Bush ordered the towers destroyed -- he says the line is a metaphor, and that Bush should take the blame for the terrorist attack because his administration didn't do enough to stop it.
"They didn't follow up on a lot of things properly," says Jadakiss. "It's the president of the United States. The buck stops with him."
The controversy doesn't appear to be hurting Jadakiss -- his new album, "Kiss of Death," released last month, is nearing 500,000 copies sold. However, his song "Why?" has stalled at No. 16 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.
Hearing Jadakiss converse about political issues is a new concept -- the rapper, who began his career as part of the group The Lox, is more known for his gritty rhymes about street life.
But Jadakiss says his outlook has changed.
"I'm growing up, I'm getting a little older. I've got two kids. I'm almost 30 years old," says the Yonkers, N.Y. native.
He talks up "Fahrenheit 9/11" as an important, must-see movie -- he's watched it twice -- and he's even registering to vote in the upcoming presidential election, a first for him. (He backs John Kerry.) He wants the minimum wage raised and more jobs created.
"As a rapper, as an artist, we've got power," he said. "If we can get people to vote from the ages 18 to 44, we can make a change."