White House press secretary responds to Jay-Z’s ‘Open Letter’ and Cuba concerns

Why the president did not have a conversation with Jay-Z

Ramon Espinosa/AP

Rapper Jay-Z’s song ‘Open Letter,’ which is a response to backlash against his recent trip to Cuba, warranted a reply from President Barack Obama’s press secretary, even if his reply was a lighthearted one.

Last week, Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé made headlines when they appeared in Cuba to celebrate their fifth anniversary. There was much speculation that the couple may have been in the country illegally, since Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba without a special permit. There were also questions of whether the couple got special treatment.

Upon his return to the United States, Jay-Z released his single “Open Letter,” which seemed to suggest that he spoke to President Barack Obama directly to get a travel license into the country.

A journalist read out some of the lyrics during a White House Press conference:

“I turned Havana into Atlanta/Boy from the ‘hood, I got White House clearance/Obama said “Chill, you gonna get me impeached/You don’t need this [expletive] anyway/come chill with me on the beach”

To which White House press secretary Jay Carney said, with a straight face, “I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury.”

Though, he went on to clarify, saying that Obama did not meet with Jay-Z.

“Because Treasury offers and give licences for travel, as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it.”

The journalist pressed: “Are you saying that the president did not have a conversation with Jay-Z?”

“I am absolutely saying that the White House, and the president, had nothing to do with anybody’s travel to Cuba,” said Carney. “That is something that the Treasury handles.”

There you have it. Obama did not grant a license to Jay-Z, even if the prospect of chilling on the beach with the famous rapper may sound appealing.

The Jay-Z question is around the 37-minute mark:

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