Jay Z, especially at this point in his career, is not someone who does a lot of interviews. Since the release of 4:44, he has done a grand total of one public chat. But Wednesday's New York Times brings Jay Z obsessives a giant treasure trove. NYT executive editor Dean Baquet sat down with the rap icon for what is arguably Jay's most revealing interview.
The piece, which you can read (and watch!) here, begins with "The Story of O.J.," and Baquet's own childhood obsession with O.J. Simpson. The talk moves from that to fatherhood, racism in the age of Trump, what Jay learned from being in therapy, and more.
For music fans, arguably the most interesting parts have to do with Baquet inquiring about whether Jay had actually been unhappy during the height of his success—whether he had "been in a lot of pain when life was good." The question sparked Jay to mention one of his most-loved songs, The Blueprint's "Song Cry."
"[T]he idea of the hook—'never seen it comin' down my eyes, but I gotta make the song cry.' It tells you right there what I was, I was hiding," Jay explained. "The strongest thing a man can do is cry. To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That’s real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That’s not real. It’s fake... So you can be, you can be inside your body and be happy, but at the core of it, something else is going on."
Hov also mentioned his relationship with Kanye West.
"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. [W]e're both entertainers. It's always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother."
He imagined a time when current tensions ("there's certain things that happened that's not really acceptable to me," Jay said, obliquely) between the two are over.
"In the long relationship, you know, hopefully when we're 89 we look at this six months or whatever time and we laugh at that."
Most fascinatingly, Jay admits almost offhandedly that he and Beyoncé were at one point working on a joint album.
"We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together," he explained. "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."
To read the entire interview, visit the Times.