Bill O’Reilly Is Wrong: Jay-Z Is Worthy of America’s Respect

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards. He is the best-selling author of “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” a book known as an industry “must read.” Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Torossian lives in Manhattan with his wife and children. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


120907_LF_jayz.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeCount me as a fan of the divergent brands of Fox News, hip-hop and Jay-Z. Growing up in the Bronx, New York in the 1980s and 1990s, a product of the New York City public school system, hip-hop is in my blood. It has changed my life for the better, as the hip-hop lifestyle teaches so many important American values. From the importance of rising up no matter what your circumstances, to constantly working hard and seeking more and more, to personal responsibility, there are so many hip-hop values that all Americans – including political conservatives – must appreciate. 

As CEO of a leading New York PR agency, we have represented countless hip-hop artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ice-Cube, Snoop Dogg and others — and it’s been a great experience. 

As readers of FrontPage Magazine know, I am a proud conservative – for many reasons. Foremost among those reasons is the fact that I shouldn’t be penalized tax-wise for my success. No one gave me anything.  As a conservative, it is evident that the media are often liberally-biased and Fox News, the fair and balanced network, has eliminated liberal bias from at least one station.  Yet, too often conservatives are out of touch with youth culture, and a perfect example of that is overlooking the countless ways that hip-hop has made America a better country. 

Bill O’Reilly’s perpetual attacks upon the hip-hop industry are wrong and misguided. This week, O’Reilly confronted Valerie Jarret, a senior advisor to President Obama, on-air as they were discussing Obama’s new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, which seeks to help minorities find role models. O’Reilly said, “You’re gonna have to get people like Jay-Z, alright, Kanye West, all of these gangsta rappers to knock it off. That’s number one.” He continued, saying that young males idolize “these guys with the hats on backwards” and “terrible rap lyrics,” and that these “gangsta rappers” and “tattoo guys” need to speak to kids and tell them that they’ve “got to stop the disruptive behavior or you’re going to wind up in a morgue or in prison.” 

O’Reilly continually speaks negatively about hip-hop, and inaccurately claimed that Jay-Z and Kanye West were “gangster rappers.” They aren’t. While Jay-Z made many mistakes growing up – as a drug dealer he undoubtedly hurt many people — none of us are perfect. The man is tremendously influential and has shown so many of us how to overcome adversity and become successful. With sheer determination, Jay-Z has succeeded as a world-class entrepreneur, and demonstrated how self-confidence, passion and a strong work ethic can allow anyone in this great country to get anywhere. 

At times, as an entertainer, Jay-Z curses and is inappropriate. “The Terminator” was inappropriate as well, as were other characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in countless movies. Indeed, there are PG-13 and R-rated movies and actors. But the real life of Jay-Z today is parental-encouraged, and worthy of being viewed by all. People should watch and learn from Jay-Z. 

Neither Jay-Z nor Kanye West are “gangster rappers” and the fact that they may wear their hats backwards, and may have tattoos, doesn’t say anything more about them today than the clothing style of someone wearing a suit says about that person. Marc Zuckerberg, Jan Koum of Whats App and many others have non-traditional viewpoints on corporate rules and how to dress. Whether it’s a hoodie, or someone with a tattoo, people cannot be defined by how they dress or what they look like. 

So often, hip-hop represents the greatness of America – opportunity, risk-taking, thinking outside of the box — and Jay-Z is at the forefront of that movement. Hip-hop embraces entrepreneurship and a culture of self-sufficiency. As the American business icon Warren Buffett said:

“Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. They’re going to learn from somebody. For a young person growing up he’s the guy to learn from.”

From becoming one of the world’s most recognizable artists, to investing in professional sports teams, cosmetics brands, restaurants and much more, Jay-Z shows first-hand the results and importance of hard-work, responsibility, and risk-taking. Jay-Z’s values today are of a family man who is the face of major American brands – married to one of the most beautiful, charismatic artists of our time. He has taught so many of us to strive for more, to work hard at what we love. Jay-Z is worth $475 million dollars according to Forbes Magazine and is still going. For so many Americans, myself included, Jay-Z is worthy of our immense respect. As a grown man, Jay-Z is a business role model for so many people.  (His political viewpoints, on the other hand, leave a lot to be desired.) 

Mr. O’Reilly: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  As Jay-Z said, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” Jay-Z’s business skills show so many Americans that even if we aren’t Ivy League graduates, we can still succeed in a major way. 

P.S.: For those who will disagree with this article, I will offer this qualifier: As a marketer and a father, I agree with what NBA legend Charles Barkley said in his famous Nike commercial:

“I am not a role model. I am not paid to be a role model. Parents should be role models. Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

Amen. 

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  • Borek Volarik

    Neither Luis Armstrong nor Duke Ellington were worth that much money but they really represented something great in the American culture. Who will remember some vulgar nursery rhymes shouter fifty years from now? And let me tell you….people like Armstrong, Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Ella Fitzgerald, Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie …. these people will be remembered even 100 years from now, simply because they participated in creating of an original part of American culture called JAZZ. And they conquered the world with they art!

    • diana.kunselman

      This man is no artist, nor will we remember him as one. He was just smart at investing. This is like the mafia trying to look good, like a store front. Look out the back door and you will see the garbage piled high. He is a punk who thinks he and his wife are so cool. I wouldn’t trade my life for his for any amount of money. Rather die poor.

      • laura r

        i would trade.

    • DWRomans58

      That statement, unlike this article, gets MY Amen.

  • dsjj251

    ” Fox News, the fair and balanced network, has eliminated liberal bias from at least one station. ”

    Do conservatives actually believe this, or was this some inside joke that i missed ?

    Fox is in no way fair and balanced. And before anyone says something, neither is MSNBC. However MSNBC doesnt pretend to be.

  • Matt

    Having just read On Liberty by John Stuart Mill the opening arguments this author makes seem silly. Also it seems disingenuous to wait until the end of the article for the author to explain what he means by role model. Turns out he sees Jay Z as a business role model. Of course most people think of role models as moral models. Another reason I find this article disingenuous.

    • laura r

      the right wing is all morals morals morals. when the artical was about “business” (youre correct 100%). manufacturing clothing baseball team touring endorsing recording investing.

  • Native American

    Ronn…”he’s a business man”… really?..he was a business man when he sold the drugs…he’s a gansta rapper…he uses foul language but you forgive…GEEZ! what does it take for you to see it all…

    • laura r

      ronn sees the % he gets. the numbers speak for themselves. there’s the clothing line etc. its an industry. foul language? been to vegas?

  • Disapp

    In my opinion, a person naming himself “Jay-Hova” is not worthy of respect as he is renaming himself God (Jehovah). This man needs prayer and not admiration. I wonder why Mr. Torossian would end his article with Amen.

    • laura r

      its show biz. dont you know anything about rock in roll? the singer is the god, the audience the followers. it has to be cool, edgy, exciting. this stuff has been going on like 50yrs. seems when ever a new person comes along…..well….its the same old stuff. actually i liked jayz’s work better while he was in in the marcy projects, w/out music or beats.

      • Disapp

        Yes, I am aware of Rock and Roll. However, I am not aware of entertainers actually renaming themselves as Jehovah.

        • laura r

          they name themselves all kinds of occult or controversial names. heard of madonna? all of this is pure entertainment, like a vegas floor show.

  • mickeymat

    This article had little of no factual data or argument. Why waste time posting it?

  • Shami-Amourae
  • Ian Connel

    What a completely bullshit argument. Way to throw values in the toilet.

  • Marlin B. Newburn

    One can hear Chris Rock’s take on rap:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcqJDDhoUlc

  • DaveMed

    “I got 99 problems but a ***** ain’t one.”
    _____________________________________________________________

    These are the lyrics of one of the most famous songs that Black culture has graced our society with. Crafted by Jay-Z.

    Isn’t diversity enriching?

  • Shirley Potter

    Are you crazy, Mr Torossian? I think so!

  • The Facts

    This is a corner Frontpage is never going to be able to turn. Something’s in Mr. Torossian’s blood alright, but it ain’t Hip Hop.

  • MLCBLOG

    “…..hip-hop lifestyle teaches so many
    important American values. From the importance of rising up no matter
    what your circumstances, to constantly working hard and seeking more and
    more, to personal responsibility, there are so many hip-hop values that
    all Americans – including political conservatives – must appreciate.”

    This above is news to me. Hard to tell when I look at pants around the butt (to invite ??) and see the unkempt look, but then we looked pretty raggedy and rebellious to our folks, too, when I was also very young.

    Thank you. I heart you being conservative surrounded by so many who may not be. I, too, was born to be a conservative it seems, even though by peer pressure I had!! to spend a lot of time (learning) on the “other side.”

    I look forward to reading the rest of your article.

  • laura r

    remember what michele obama said after the inaguration? beyonce was a role model young girls can emulate. right after that she released the album sasha fierce. i wish frontpage can play a clip of that, than have the most obcene vid as well. i should get paid for this.

  • Native American

    Ronn ..again…he claims he was a drug seller…and now he’s a business man…he was always a business man selling drugs..get it?

    • laura r

      as i said, the biggest businessmen in mexico are drug dealers. they open shopping malls, fund hospitals, own tons of realestate. some of them are merciless killers. jayz & ronn are not slaugtering people, or giving the orders too. now, thats where i draw the line. jayz is quite civilized according to what i have grown used too, living several yrs way south of the border.

  • Garvey … Once a tolerant bre

    Very well written article. too bad your readers all seem to be racist white guys that still listen to music in genres.

    • http://www.ambrosekane.com/ bluffcreek1967

      No, we just refuse to call ‘Hip-Hop’ anything other than what it truly is – namely, musical garbage connected to dim-witted lyrics and sung by talentless dopes.

  • laura r

    reality check moralists: guzman is on the forbes list of the world riches men. business: “shipping”. hes a drug trafficker, big time. he built a tunnel from mexico to the USA to transport. it took a long time to build. when finished he had the workers shot, killed, buried. (so they wouldnt tell anyone). he is responsible for 1000s of deaths. he had a 3rd grade education, was very poor. worked his way up the drug chain. in 2008, he deposited $328,000,000 usd to american banks after the crash. he runs mexico, is connected to many international banking investment firms. hes a real player, jayz is small potatoes. if you want to judge, go after the real killers. again, forbes calls his business “shipping”. just saying….

  • Fred Campbell

    I cannot say that I am convinced, but Ronn Torossian certainly provides “food for thought”.
    And anyone who makes me think is ultimately my friend.

    • laura r

      there are many sides to this coin. thankyou for being open, but be careful what you listen too! be advised.

      • Fred Campbell

        Wise counsel. Thank you.

  • Douglas Mayfield

    People should be able to watch, listen to, whatever they wish. Their lives, their choice, their business. No censorship. It’s immoral.

    But Mr. Torossian, whom I presume thinks of himself as a conservative, is an example of why conservatives are losing the intellectual and cultural battle.

    Since those on the Left are subjectivist, that is, they reject values as such, the Left wing wages an unrelenting war against values per se.
    What should be the hallmark of conservatism? Espousing real values. Values which are based in reality and on our nature as thinking, reasoning human beings.

    Rap, hip hop, etc. are observably nothing more than stupid, that is, self lobotomized, vicious noise. The lyrics generally advocate violence and death. They are the aesthetic equivalent in ‘music’ (they are not music) of the more virulent, offensive, and by their nature, outright destructive, forms of painting and sculpture in ‘modern art’.
    For a so-called conservative to embrace these is similar to an advocate of ‘freedom’ embracing socialism because ‘it helps people’ when in fact, socialism is poison for a free country as rap, hip hop, etc. are poison for our culture.

  • laura r

    torossian is a supporter of isreal (100 points). that makes him somewhat conservative, & well liked by the FP editors. dont forget he does fit the image of the”west coast promo man” so hes fast talking, kind of manipulative what ever. he also writes for huff post (take away 20 points), what can i say? not the worst person, & neither is jayz.

  • Hilda

    Torossian , says, “as CEO of a leading New York PR agency, we have represented countless hip-hop artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ice-Cube, Snoop Dogg and others — and it’s been a great experience.”

    If I decided to try to make money representing Mexican bands who are popular because of “narco-corridos” (ballads that glorify murderous drug cartel
    criminals), well of course, I’m going to make an attempt at arguing that “narco-corridos” are a wonderful uplifting contribution of Mexican culture that merely reflect the struggles of the Mexican poor who are oppressed by the Gringo Empire to the north.

  • laura r

    gee i must have been independent. none of my friends actually took jim morrisons occult ceromonies seriously. but yes things have gotton more vulgar, im a libertarian. its the parents job to raise the child.

  • sam

    Again, I think people need to look into what they listen to a little more before they start casting stones. I LOVE The Who, but they were in no way angels. I’m assuming you’re also a Led Zeppelin fan? Well they raped 14 year old girls. Talk about respecting women huh! John Entwistle also died in the arms of a prostitute. But I LOVE THESE BANDS, cause that kind of stuff doesn’t matter when you produce great art that changes the world. And as a woman I actually find hip hop a little more respectful then some of the things I’ve heard John Lennon, Jimmy Page, John Bonham etc.. say.

    Also if you were to take any type of ethno-musicology class and you stated that you feel “sad” for anyone that enjoyed hip hop everyone would know not to take you seriously as a music fan, you might want to work on that argument.

    Beyonce doesn’t twerk either, that bitch dances like an angel. Have some respect.

    • George Clark

      Good lord. Led Zep raped 14 year old girls. I’m not a led zep fan, buckwheat.

      Hip hop is not music. It’s anti music. Most of it is “written” in iambic pentameter, a term that most rappers have never heard of. If you want to compare rap to led zep, compare a bridge from “Physical Graffiti” to a bridge from a rapper’s album. Doubt you can find one.

      As for me taking “ethno-musicology” courses–I have an advanced degree in English lit. I don’t need to take undergrad courses in anti-music. I’ll listen to Mahler and the Blue Oyster Cult.

      Did the Blue Oyster Cult rape 14 year old girls, monkeyboy?