Jay-Z Opens Up to The New York Times

Hello everyone! So, I was finally able to take a break from studying for finals and working on presentations, blah, blah…and I was able to sit and watch the recent interview that Jay-Z did with The New York Times.

The Brooklyn-native sat down for a conversation with the Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, in New York late last September; the main topics of which seemed to circulate around his latest album, 4:44, race relations, personal relationships, and Jay’s evolution from where he began to the man and artist he is now. Somewhat surprisingly, the rapper also admitted to going to therapy and some of the revelations that he experienced there.

As I watched the interview, I wanted to commend Baquet for his journalism. No, I’m not trying to gas him because I’m good friends with his niece (hey Sto!), but I just think he conducted an interview that was respectfully honest and engaging, yet did not feel too intrusive like some interviewers tend to lean toward. Even though he admittedly prompted one of his questions about Kanye as “gossipy”; to me, nothing seemed distasteful, which I appreciated. I actually thought it was kind of funny when Baquet found a classy way of basically asking the mogul if he thinks his kids will be spoiled to the point that they are oblivious to the way other black people (who are not the children of Jay-Z and Queen Bee!) live in America. Jay responded by explaining that he does not have to share the same “survival” tools with his children that he needed growing up (because clearly they will grow up with silver spoons), but he will instill values in his children so that they learn compassion, fairness, empathy so as not to look down on others and only treat people who they feel are important enough with respect. And, yes, that’s fine and all, but as black children in America, I still hope he exposes them to some of those tools and the world that the rest of us live in as well…

Of course, the topics of his marriage and Lemonade slid in there as well; in which, Jay-Z spoke of how he was present during the process of making the project and it forced him to sit in the “eye of the hurricane,” and face both himself and uncomfortable conversations with his wife, while also respecting each others craft. He also used the statement: “what you reveal, you heal.” So, I guess the power couple is finding a way to come out stronger by facing their issues head on. This is pretty commendable in this age we live in now given that sadly, as Jay pointed out in the interview, most marriages fail because people do not want to look inside of themselves and at what they’ve done wrong, so they walk away.

The two areas that I found to be most interesting though (and I would LOVE to hear other artists answer), was: (1) when Baquet asked Jay-Z to describe the chapters in the “biography” of his life, and (2) when they discussed the responsibility Jay-Z has a black artist, and his views on others who are in similar positions that he is either in, or has been in. The first intrigued me because Jay spoke of how he has surpassed looking at the importance of material possessions and valuing genuine friendships at this stage of his life. Hallelujah! That gave me a bit of hope that some of these rappers will grow out of feeling like they are superior to brothers on the street because they have diamond-this and gold-that. The unfortunate part is that the rappers who are trending realize this once they are not as poppin’ anymore. In regards to the second subject, Jay-Z believes that he has a responsibility that he’s been charged with in life. As he compared a rapper’s position to poets with the same charge, he states that he has an “obligation to further conversations,” and to let people know “it’s okay to think. It’s okay to be smart.” He also expressed that there are some in these positions who do not uphold their mantle, and I agree! But, that also goes back to my previous point that many of these influential people only stop to really think and mature once they are out of the “trendy” limelight. It also brings up the age old debate on what truly is an artists’ responsibility in society? Especially, black artists. But…c’est la vie…another time…

Anyway, take some time to view the interview yourself, and let me know your thoughts! What do you wish would have or should have been touched on more?

Peace and positive energy!

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