JAY-Z's interviews are just as informative as his music. This was proven in his feature for T, The New York Times Style Magazine, where the music icon touched on many topics like the Grammy-nominated album 4:44, his friendship with Kanye West and how his intuition grew stronger with the assistance of therapy.
The piece, published Wednesday (Nov. 28), begins with the rapper's interpretation of blackness through the stirring "The Story Of O.J." His critics have held a tight grip the use of the n-word and insight about wealth, a move Mr. Carter denounced as hypocritical.
"It's obviously a general statement, like the video attached to it was a general statement," he said pertaining to the line about finance pertaining to the African-American and Jewish communities.
"And if you didn't have a problem with the general statement I made about black people, and people eating watermelon and things like that, if that was fine, [but] that line about wealth bothered you, then that's very hypocritical, and, you know, that's something within yourself. 'Cause basically, I was saying, you know, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, is a great basketball player. He trains in the off-season. If you want to be great, train in off-season like him. That's basically the statement. You can't miss the context of the song. You have to be like 5 years old or something."
He also shares his views on Colin Kaepernick, who he dedicated the song to at his rousing Meadows Festival set and how his joint album with Beyonce fell to the wayside, making space for the power couple to create 4:44 and Lemonade.
Check out the takeaways below.
What he learned from therapy
"I grew so much from the experience. But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a ... you're at such an advantage. You know, you realize that if someone's racist toward you, it ain't about you. It's about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point.
You know, most bullies bully. It just happen. Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me. I understand.And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, “Aw, man, is you O.K.?” I was just saying there was a lot of fights in our neighborhood that started with “What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?” And then you realize: “Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.”
Why Dave Chappelle would be a great POTUS'
Cause he tells it in humor so you can deal with it, but it's always a nice chunk of truth in there.
His "complicated" friendship with Kanye West
"It's always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother. And we both love and respect each other's art, too. So it's like, we both — everyone wants to be the greatest in the world.
There's gonna be complications in the relationship that we have to get through. And the only way to get through that is we sit down and have a dialogue and say, "These are the things that I'm uncomfortable with. These are the things that are unacceptable to me. This is what I feel." I'm sure he feels that I've done things to him as well. You know what I'm saying? These are — I'm not a perfect human being by no stretch. You know."
His thoughts on Colin Kaepernick and the difference between political activism in the NBA and the NFL
"We just had dialogue over the phone, but we supposed to get together.....It's harder to get 53 people [football team] thinking the same thing. It's easier to have a conversation to get 12 people on the same page. For one. Two, [the N.B.A. has] a great ... they have a great commissioner who's really open. And, you know, supports them. And you feel that. You feel like, you know, when you have someone behind you that really believe in what's right, it motivates you to do the right thing. I think those two factors show why they're much further along."
How he and Beyonce indirectly canceled their plans for a joint album for Lemonade and 4:44
"It happened — we were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together. And then the music she was making at that time was further along. So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, “I’m making this album.” I was right there the entire time."
Read the piece in its entirety here.