Jay-Z’s company, S. Carter Enterprises, has filed a document to trademark the animated character, according to a report from TMZ. The trademark can be seen as Jay-Z reappropriating and profiting off a historically racist character. The character, which is inspired by Sambo (from The Story of Little Black Sambo, an 1899 children’s book that is generally considered to be racist because of its illustrations of black people) and Dumbo (the 1941 Disney film that has also been accused of making racist characterizations), is an integral part of the music video for “The Story of O.J.”
As the first official music video from Jay-Z’s 4:44 album, “The Story of O.J.” featured Jaybo, who raps about race relations, gentrification, and the importance of investing which contrasts against against images of cotton fields, a segregated bus, and other scenes shown in the video.
“We tend to as black people – because we’ve never had anything which is understandable – we get to a place where we think we separate ourself from the culture,” Jay-Z said in a footnote video for “The Story of O.J.” “Like where O.J. will get to a space where he’s like, ‘I’m not black, I’m O.J.’… I’ve never had an inferior complex ever. I’m the opposite, I was more defiant to the system…”
Recently, it was revealed that the Brooklyn rapper made close to $50 million through slow ticketing on his 4:44 tour. The new report contrasts previous stories stating that the tour was severely underselling, with ticket sales shockingly low in a number of cities a part of the tour’s itinerary.