By Justin Sink
Superstar hip-hop artist Jay-Z has released a song blasting politicians who questioned whether it was appropriate for him to visit Cuba with his wife, Beyoncé, rapping that he is just a "boy from the hood but got White House clearance."
In the song, titled "Open Letter," Jay-Z jokes that he "turned Havana [in]to Atlanta" and claims President Obama told him "chill, you gonna get me impeached."
According to Global Grind, the hip-hop website where the song was posted, Jay-Z recorded the song after seeing the media attention his trip had garnered.
The Republican National Committee on Thursday hit on the song, saying it believed the lyrics revealed that the White House had intervened on the couple's behalf. The administration has maintained that the decision was made by the Treasury Department, not the White House, and was not exceptional.
Jay-Z says the WH approved his Cuba trip. Will @presssec continue evading questions?— Reince Priebus (@Reince) April 11, 2013
Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), have questioned why the Treasury Department granted the entertainers a license to travel to Cuba. In a letter sent earlier this week, the department told the lawmakers that educational trips to Cuba are allowed under U.S. law under "people-to-people" licenses.
According to multiple media reports, Academic Arrangements, a New York company, obtained the travel licenses for the couple. These licenses allow anyone to visit the island nation, although the trips must be designed around meetings with civil society groups and average Cuban citizens, and generally must exclude visits with Cuban government officials.
Nevertheless, Republicans have continued to slam the trip as aiding the Castro regime.
"If the tourist activities undertaken by Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba are classified as an educational exchange trip, then it is clear that the Obama administration is not serious about denying the Castro regime an economic lifeline," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.
"That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural exchange program."
—Julian Pecquet contributed. This post was updated at 11:54 a.m.