Jay-Z's 'Open Letter' Brags About Cuba Trip, Obama White House Clearance

Image: Jay-Z's 'Open Letter' Brags About Cuba Trip, Obama White House Clearance April 4, 2013 file photo shows married musicians Beyonce, left, and rapper Jay-Z as they toured Old Havana, Cuba.

Thursday, 11 Apr 2013 02:33 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Rapper Jay-Z, who caused a stir last week when he and wife Beyoncé took a trip to Cuba, released a new song Thursday "Open Letter" in which he brags about getting White House clearance from President Barack Obama to visit the communist island.

"I done turned Havana into Atlanta," Jay-Z raps in "Open Letter." "… Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s— for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime."

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He later raps: "Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, 'Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s— anyway, chill with me on the beach.'"

Republicans, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, criticized the celebrity couple, who are big Obama supporters, for ignoring the American policy that states "unless authorized by a general or specific license, any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who engages in any Cuba travel-related transaction violates the regulations and may be subject to penalties," according to the Treasury Department.

The Treasury claimed Tuesday that Jay-Z and Beyoncé's Cuba trip was approved and licensed as an educational exchange, even though it's widely known the couple went there to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

Treasury officials then told Politico Wednesday that while the department approved for the trip’s organizers to travel to Cuba as part of a cultural learning experience, they were unaware that Jay-Z and Beyoncé would be attending, as it is department policy not to require organizers' to provide a list of travelers.

But the Republican National Committee is still taking issue with the "I got White House clearance" line from Jay-Z's song, even though White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maintained that it's the Treasury Department that handles the travel visas, not the White House.

"The White House, from the president on down, had nothing to do with anybody's personal — anybody's travel to Cuba," Carney said. "That is something that Treasury handles.  . . . The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip."

"There seems to be some confusion regarding how Beyoncé and Jay-Z acquired visas to travel to Cuba. Just days ago, Jay Carney evaded questions on the celebrities' trip," RNC spokeswoman Alexandra Franceschi said in a public statement. "Any chance Jay Carney can clear up this confusion?"

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Related stories:

Robinson Cano, Jay-Z Ink Deal To Kick Off Rapper's Sports Agency

Marco Rubio Joins Rand Paul Filibuster, Quotes Jay-Z, 'Godfather,' Wiz Khalifa

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