A day after receiving news of his eight Grammy nominations, JAY-Z is once again the talk of the town, courtesy of a cover story with T Magazine for their holiday issue. Interviewed by acclaimed journalist, Dean Baquet, Hov touches on a myriad of topics including O.J. Simpson, his relationship with Kanye, therapy, marriage, and more.
As he seamlessly did with his masterful opus 4:44, Hov leaves everything on the table during his intimate conversation with Baquet. Take a look at the seven best highlights from their chat below.
JAY Calls Out Hypocrites Who Questioned His Lyrics on ‘The Story of O.J.’
While JAY-Z was lauded for his sheer honesty on “The Story of O.J.,” he encountered backlash from the Anti-Defamation League last July. The Jewish organization pegged his lyrics as a form of antisemitism when he rapped, “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit/ You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” Hov countered back and dubbed his detractors as hypocrites during his interview.
“I felt it was really hypocritical,” he said. “Only because it’s obvious the song is, like, “Do you want to be rich? Do what people got rich done.” Of course, it’s a general statement, right? It’s obviously a general statement, like the video attached to it was a general statement. 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 [the animated music video for the song, which references racist cartoons, includes a caricature of a black man eating watermelon] — if that was fine, [but] that line about wealth bothered you, then that’s very hypocritical, and, you know, that’s something within yourself.”
He Would Sign Colin Kaepernick If He Were An NFL Team Owner
The Brooklyn MC has been an avid supporter of the embattled athlete. On numerous occasions, Hov has paid homage to Kaepernick for his unwavering commitment towards justice and equality, so much so that he dedicated “The Story of O.J.” to him at The Meadows Concert last September. When asked if he would sign the former 49ers quarterback, he replied, “Yeah.”
JAY-Z Learned the Value of Connection During His Time in Therapy
Despite his fame and superstardom, in recent years, JAY-Z has found himself entangled in a messy web of drama. After being embroiled in a public spat with sister-in-law, Solange, during a Met Gala after-party in 2014, JAY was pinned as the antagonist for his role in the infamous elevator incident. That, intertwined with his infidelity to Beyoncé, was a cocktail for disaster. For Hov, he used therapy as a way to configure his emotions and tear down his wall of anger.
“I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected,” he said. “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.”
He Really Loves Dave Chappelle
After diving into his thoughts on Obama’s presidency and how he met his expectations, Hov later applauded Dave Chappelle for being someone who speaks on things that he truly values and cares about. “He tells it in humor so you can deal with it, but it’s always a nice chunk of truth in there,” said JAY.
He Initially Didn’t Have His Mother’s Permission to Record “Smile.”
One of the highlights from JAY-Z’s 4:44 album was “Smile,” where he spoke on his mother’s new-found sexuality. According to JAY, he and his mother had a “beautiful conversation” during which they really opened up with one another.
“We never spoke about [her being gay],” revealed JAY. “Until, like, recently, now we start having these beautiful conversations, and just really getting to know each other. We were always good friends but now we’re really great friends. You know. And we were just talking as friends. And then she was sharing that she was in love. She can be herself [now]. She doesn’t have to hide for her kids or feel like she’s embarrassing her kids. It was a much different time then. [Now] she can just live her full life, her whole life, and be her.”
There’s Still Love for Kanye
For over a year, the public has watched haplessly, wondering whether Kanye and JAY would ever piece back together their brotherly bond. Though he fired several volleys towards West’s direction on 4:44, JAY acknowledged in his interview that he and ‘Ye have spoken recently. “I [talked to] Kanye the other day, just to tell him, like, he’s my brother. I love Kanye. I do. It’s a complicated relationship with us,” he told Baquet.
JAY further expounded on his complicated relationship with West by highlighting their competitive rivalry as one of the factors that strained their bond.
“Kanye came into this business on my label. So I’ve always been like his big brother,” says JAY. “And we’re both entertainers. 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. You know what I’m saying? And then there’s like a lot of other factors that play in it. But it’s gonna, we gonna always be good.”
Beyoncé Is ‘Really Proud’ of 4:44
To close out the interview, Baquet asked JAY to speak on his marriage with Beyoncé and how she reacted to his new album.
“We had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released, he said. “And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing.”
He added: “You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”