The 40 year old rapper and businessman reminds us that it's bigger than rap. By offering a backdrop to his music, he sets up Rap as an art form. He then connects that art form to a larger community complete with challenges, joys, and complexities. In interiews, he says that the impetus for Decoded came from some of his conversions with people like Oprah Winfrey who consider Rap music to be destructive, who still don't understand its value. She must now because, as a part of her most recent "Favorite Things" show, she gave the book away saying that it gave her many "aha! moments."
I got my copy and thanks to my mentor it's signed. Get yours and if you don't, take a look at the below excerpts and media converge of Jay's book tour then kick yourself.
"It may sound strange, but it was usually a fun way to spend time. I got to hang out on the block with my crew, talking, cracking jokes. You know how people in office jobs talk at the watercooler? This job was almost all watercooler. But when you weren't having fun, it was hell. I got out just in time. Some of my best friends weren't so lucky."
|Decoded cover features Warhol's Rorshach painting.|
On his music
"So 99 Problems is a good song to use to talk about the difference between the art of rap and the artlessness of some of its critics. It takes real events and reimagines them. It's a narrative with a purposefully ambiguous ending. And the hook – "99 problems but a bitch ain't one" – is a joke, bait for lazy critics. At no point am I talking about a girl. The chorus makes that clear if you bother listening. But even as I was recording it, I knew someone somewhere would say, "Aha, there he goes talking about them hos and bitches again!" This struck me as deeply funny. I couldn't wait to release it as a single. It's hard to beat the entertainment value of people who deliberately misunderstand the world, people dying to be insulted, running around looking for a bullet to get in front of."Discussing a lyric from "This Can't Be Life:
"Now, obviously, miscarriages happen everywhere, to anyone, but the point is that on top of the especially acute paranoia and disappointment and exhaustion I'm feeling from the street life, friends getting shot, your family being broke, I have to deal with the everyday tragedies that stalk everyone. And when that hits you, sometimes it becomes clear that you have to get out, that this really can't be life, it has to be more."
"More than anything specific that he said, I was impressed by who he was. He was my peer, or close to it, like a young uncle or an older brother. His defining experiences were in the 90s in the projects of Chicago, where he lived and worked as a community organiser before going to Harvard Law School. He'd seen me – or some version of me – in those Chicago streets. He even had the guts to tell the press that he had my music on his iPod. And he was black. This was big."