Jay-Z Backs Obama’s Endorsement of Gay Marriage

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Gary Miller / FilmMagic

Jay-Z performs during the "Amex Sync Show Presenting Jay-Z" at ACL-Live on March 12, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

Although Jay-Z arrived at his press conference in Philadelphia to discuss the details of a two-day music festival he’s organizing, it was his thoughts on gay marriage that proved most significant.

In an interview with CNN immediately following the press conference, the rapper went on the record to support President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage. “I’ve always thought of it as something that was still holding the country back,” he told CNN. Jay-Z’s pronouncement is a bold move in the rap world. For a genre that’s vastly silent (at best) on the subject of homosexuality, the rapper’s declaration of support is, as Washington Post‘s Clinton Yates puts it,  a “cultural step forward.”

Jay-Z, to CNN:

“What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple. I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether it costs him votes or not — again, it’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being.”

Jay’s own early catalog has its share of homophobic disses, so to hear his new stance is definitely a turning point for him as an artist — and maybe even for hip hop itself. His statement carries strength, delivered as just a matter-of-fact: equal rights should include everyone, “plain and simple.”

Moments earlier, Jay-Z and Mayor Michael Nutter took the (modest) stage in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum to announce the Budweiser “Made in America” festival. The entrepreneur and mogul, who will be curating and headlining the inaugural fest, said he asks himself several questions whenever entering a new project: “Is it great?…Is it gonna push the culture forward?…Is there a philanthropic opportunity?…And the last one, I always gotta make my mama proud.”

The event, produced by Live Nation, will take place across three stages at Fairmont Park, and will feature close to 30 musical acts “across rock, hip-hop, R&B, Latin and dance” genres. A portion of the proceeds will go to support local charities and non-profits in Philadelphia and New Jersey via United Way.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this event,” said United Way CEO Jill Michal. “We love the theme of Made in America because it talks about resilience and it talks about the fact that this city can’t be kept down.”

Who better to lead a festival about resilience and the American Dream than Jay? “Made in America” — also the name of a song featuring Frank Ocean, off his Watch the Throne album — will include artists that “embody the American spirit,” the “you can make it anywhere” mentality that the rapper lives by.

The official lineup will be revealed Monday, but we’re guessing it’s safe to assume at least a few of Jay-Z’s famous friends will find the time to show up. He revealed that 70 percent of the roster is confirmed, and told Rolling Stone that he “tried to put [the event] far enough away” so that superstar wife Beyoncé could hopefully find a gap in her schedule. Bruce Springsteen will also reportedly be in Philly, and given that the festival will benefit New Jersey charities, his appearance wouldn’t be surprising. Like Jay-Z, Springsteen is about as American as you can get.

Tickets for the festival will go on sale May 23 via Ticketmaster/Live Nation.

Seeing as Jay-Z already has “Obama on the text,” maybe he can nab the President as a surprise guest for the festival. “I’m gonna tell you guys right now: I’m gonna give him a call and I’m gonna try to get him to perform — do a little rendition of Al Green — but I doubt it,” Jay-Z told Rolling Stone. “He’ll be so far into helping the world that he probably won’t have time, but I’m absolutely going to ask him.”

The fact that a former kid from the Marcy Projects can call up the President to invite him to his music festival — man, that’s the American Dream right there.

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