JAY-Z has filed documents to trademark animated character Jaybo from his video for song The Story of O.J.
The hip-hop star, real name Shawn Carter, worked with director Mark Romanek via Anonymous Content, and multimedia agency The Mill, to create the award-winning animated music video.
Jaybo draws on the character of “Sambo” from the 1899 children’s book The Story of Little Black Sambo, which was an object of accusations of racism in the mid-20th century, as well as other equally problematic minstrel animations, where many racist African-American stereotypes that continue to pervade modern culture originated from.
Jay’s critically acclaimed clip samples Nina Simone singing, “My skin is black,” and also features the 48-year-old rapping as images of cotton fields, burning crosses, slave ships and lynchings appear onscreen.
According to editors at TMZ, the 4:44 rapper’s company, S. Carter Enterprises is now planning to create products including T-shirts, sweaters, hats, blankets, pillows, dinnerware, mugs, cocktail shakers and thermal containers, featuring the controversial character.
Previously, Jay explained that the track was about the nature of success and seeing the bigger picture.
“The Story of OJ is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward (sic),” the rapper explained in an interview on iHeart Radio last year. “We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”