It was reported that on January 29, 2019, at around 2 a.m. in front of a Chicago Subway restaurant, Empire star and R&B crooner Jussie Smollett was targeted and brutally attacked by two white supremacists, spewing MAGA mantras, homophobic and racist slurs. It was labeled a hate crime and is still being investigated by Chicago authorities. Initial reports stated Jussie sustained injuries and was hospitalized. The 35-year-old spoke out against those claims at his first live performance since the attack in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 2. He admitted that his ribs were not broken, he was not hospitalized and “above all, I fought the f**k back.” Tearfully, he stated, “I couldn’t let those motherf**kers win.” He also dubbed himself “the gay Tupac.”
With details about the attacks trickling in, many stood by Jussie, while others attempted to poke holes in the narrative, trivialize the hate crime, and denounce the fact that the actor’s Blackness and sexuality were the reasons he was targeted. Infamous culture connoisseur Joe Budden had quite the mouthful to say about Jussie’s attack, beginning with an inquiry about video evidence.
The retired emcee kicked off the second season of his show, State of the Culture, following up from that tweet. “A picture has been released because police have whatever they have and they cannot call these people suspects because they don’t have a video of the actual attack happening, so they’re calling these people persons of interest,” he stated. “I was glued to the news when this picture came out [...] Jussie’s story sounds really funny. It’s changed a few times. I’m gonna always have questions when a black man says that he gets a noose around his neck and then he tells me that he left it there for 45 minutes.”
To Joe, it sounds like the “fears of opposed people.” The New York native continued to try to make it make sense. “Subway?! What Subway in Chicago that tastes that great? I don’t want to be that guy, but if the story comes out that he went to buy some bussy and got his ass beat... I don’t think what they saying happened is what happened. I’m waiting to see footage,” Joe yelled.
However, "we in such horrible times that even if I seen footage, I’m so desensitized I don’t know that I would believe it,” he continued. Essentially, he feels that "when famous people are doing something that they have no business doing, sometimes, stories are created to protect against that and what better way to do it than with something that no one will question, which is a hate crime."
On Budden’s eponymous podcast, he expounded upon his sentiments on Jussie. Joe blatantly declared, “I don’t believe that ni**a was atta— it was a hate crime. I don’t believe that. Sorry! I should reserve that right is what I’m saying today.” Later on, he stated, “there are at least 25 different reasons to be a little skeptical. It’s tough to believe things,” he continued. “I don't believe Hollywood. I don't believe actors. I don't believe police and I don't believe the government. And all of those entities are here. So pardon me if my third eye is a little attentive.”
It's quite a reach for someone to fabricate such an extensive and heartbreaking story, but he's entitled to his opinion, right?
(Photos from left: Johnny Nunez/WireImage, Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)