Jay-Z Talks Excellence, Failure On Oprah OWN Network

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Oprah Winfrey's network, OWN, made its debut on Satuday (Jan. 1), and among the many shows that premiered as part of the network's line up is a documentary series titled "Oprah Presents: Master Class." The first episode featured none other than Jay-Z and showcased his inspiring life story.

Video: Jay-Z on "Oprah Presents: Master Class," part 1

Jay-Z on the topic of "excellence:"

"I think excellence is being able to perform at a higher level over and over again. You can hit a half court shot once. That's just the luck of the draw. If you can consistently do it through eleven championships like Bill Russell, then that's excellence. Having success for a year or two -- that's being hot. We call that hot. That's being in demand for a short span of time. Excellence is being able to perform at a higher level for a long period of time. In a genre of music where it's almost microwave and your career is almost in dog years, right? You last three years in hip-hop, you're fantastic. You last five years, that's amazing. But if you last a decade and beyond, it's almost unheard of. In my genre of music I believe that I've achieved excellence."

Video: Jay-Z on "Oprah Presents: Master Class," part 2

Jay-Z on failure:

"I've learned more from failures than success. It can be paralyzing to some -- failure and the fear of it. My first album I made was 'Reasonable Doubt,' which in small circles was considered THE album. Like a classic album. The album for that generation and the voice for people that were going through similar situations. Then my second, because of 'Reasonable Doubt' and its lack of commercial success, I tried to make these records that were bigger and would be more popular, which was a failure. Going for that success really messed up that project and set a bad tone. It was a huge learning lesson for me that if I was going to be successful I had to be successful with myself. I couldn't be successful doing what other people were doing. I had to do what I believed in and what felt real to me and true to me."

Video: Jay-Z on "Oprah Presents: Master Class," part 3

Jay-Z on the cultural impact of hip-hop:

I think that hip-hop has done more for cultural relations than most cultural icons, and I say save Martin Luther King because his 'Dream' speech we realized when President Obama got elected. But the impact of the music -- this music didn't only influence kids from urban areas, it influenced kids all around the world. People listened to this music all around the world and took to this music. Racism is taught in the home. I truly believe racism is taught when you're young. It's very difficult to teach racism when your kid looks up to Snoop Doggy Dogg."