It’s been seven years since JAY-Z graced the Saturday Night Live stage with a musical performance, so it seemed only natural for the Brooklyn emcee (and illustrious hip-hop mogul) to return to the show on the heels of his universally lauded thirteenth studio album, 4:44. The emotionally devastating magnum opus would translate into a powerful statement on the Sept. 30 episode of SNL. Jay performed the album’s riveting and confessional title track, as well as the Caribbean-tinged, Damien Marley-assisted “Bam.” While he sported a modest black and white ensemble for “4:44,” he opted to make a more daring statement for “Bam” by donning a personalized jersey of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
Just like every move the rapper makes, his timing was impeccable. As Kaepernick and other black athletes continue to be persecuted for kneeling to peacefully protest the national anthem, the rapper squarely let the world know that he stands in solidarity with them. On SNL, Jay stood with his back against the audience so they could see Kaepernick’s name in bold letters on the back of the jersey just as Marley chants “This a hunting season” towards the end of “Bam.”
JAY-Z’s political and social stances have been making waves for years, though. They just tend to be overlooked because they don’t fit the narrative of what a rapper should be. Even celebrated civil rights activist Harry Belafonte came for Jay a few years back for staunchly believing the emcee lacked social consciousness, but he continues to prove him—and the rest of the world—wrong.
The proof is in the pudding, so here are five instances of JAY-Z’s humanitarianism that have transpired over the course of his career, and you can bet on there being more to come.