By Chris Yuscavage
Tired of seeing Jay-Z in the news yet?
Over the course of the last week, he’s literally been everywhere thanks to a wild press tour for his new book, “Decoded,” that’s seen him answer questions asked by everyone from MTV News to Jon Stewart. He’s covered a range of topics, too—talking up the importance of rap music, revealing things about his own upbringing and even defending frequent collaborator Kanye West on a number of occasions.
In case you’ve missed it—or in case you just don’t have the time to listen to 300 Jay-Z interviews (just kidding, Jay!)—RapFix decided to decode 10 of Hov’s top sound bytes from his press tour. Listen up.
What He Said: “No disrespect to Nas, but if you look back, it wasn’t ‘Ether’ the song, it was ‘Ether’ the record. If you take away the beat, it’s a really dope record but my overall everything was better.”
Who He Said It To: Hot 97′s DJ Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg
What We Learned From It: Jay still feels like “Takeover” ethered the diss track Nas directed at him way back in 2001. Do we agree? Ehn, it depends who you ask. Either way, it’s clear that nearly a decade after Hov and Nas feuded on record, the winner still isn’t completely unanimous.
What He Said: “Kanye, I’ve seen him—really he’s like a brother to me—I’ve seen him from the beginning to where he is now. And to see him as a producer and to see how he’s growing as a producer and as an artist, for me, on another level, it’s enjoyable. I’m watching the guy that I pretty much mentored become his own guy, with his own opinion. It’s fantastic.”
Who He Said It To: MTV News’ Sway
What We Learned From It: Hold up. Jay doesn’t think Kanye had “an opinion” before he started mentoring him?
What He Said: “[Hurricane Katrina] didn’t feel like a natural disaster; it felt like it was happening directly to blacks, and immediately those images of people in suits getting beaten, sprayed with hoses, beaten on the bridge at Selma, all those emotions were going on inside of us. Kanye really spoke what everyone else felt.”
Who He Said It To: NPR’s Fresh Air radio show
What We Learned From It: Anything Kanye did, does or will do instantly becomes OK if Jay-Z bestows his endorsement.
What He Said: “The hardest part [of putting 'Decoded' together] was getting the lyrics right, ’cause I don’t write them down, so, we had to find them somewhere, and a lot of those songs I forgot … So I had to listen to them again and then look at the lyrics and then say, ‘No, that’s wrong.’ So the hardest part was getting the lyrics right.”
Who He Said It To: The UK’s Press Association
What We Learned From It: There is an obvious disadvantage to not writing your lyrics down. Oh, and Hov needs to get familiar with OHHLA.
What He Said: “I’m just not good at acting. If I was good at acting, I would be acting. I’m just not great at it. I’ll make movies one day. I believe that. But as far as me being a movie star, I’m just not very talented in that area.”
Who He Said It To: New York Magazine
What We Learned From It: We need to go back and watch “State Property” this weekend. Get down or lay down!
What He Said: “We all have a fear of failure in some sort of way. As a business mogul and as anybody who’s been successful, you’ve always, the weight of who you are is on you. The weight of all you’ve done is on you. ‘Make your first album again … I want it to be of that level.’ It’s the weight of who you are.”
Who He Said It To: CNN Money
What We Learned From It: Even after 11 albums, countless business ventures and now, a book, Jay still fears failure. Just like us. (You can be honest: Is this post good enough for you!?!)
What He Said: “Everyone knows I’m married; I just don’t discuss it. Because it’s a part of my life that I’d rather keep private … When your whole life is played out in front of everybody, for your sanity, you need parts that are just yours.”
Who He Said It To: Howard Stern of “The Howard Stern Show”
What We Learned From It: It’s official. Jay-Z is never going to talk about his marriage. If Howard couldn’t get at least a few details out of him, no one will. (Sidebar: Stern did manage to get plenty of other great details out of Stern in this interview. it’s worth a listen.)
What He Said: “During that time, you know, all joking aside, you know, this whole Reaganomics, Iran-Contra, you know, all the drugs that influenced, I mean infiltrated our neighborhoods and was everywhere like you could smell the stench in the hallways. You know, it was just, we were overcome with this thing and it was fast money and, you know, it’s inescapable.”
Who He Said It To: David Letterman of “The Late Show with David Letterman”
What We Learned From It: That there’s nothing like a little drug talk to help us drift off to sleep! No, but really: Why was Letterman so intent on getting Hov to talk about the ’80s crack era!?
What He Said: “[Hip-Hop] is a conversation between worlds. Because at the end of the day, we’re all the same, when you take away the titles of who we are. We all have the same emotions, the same feelings. We’ve got so much more in common than we don’t.”
Who He Said It To: Cornel West at a book reading at the New York Public Library
What We Learned From It: Jay-Z … the humanitarian?
What He Said: “I’m checking my knees now—I don’t know about 65, but I’ll get close. In order for rap to have that sort of longevity, we have to stop viewing it as a young man’s sport…We have to view it as a serious art form.”
Who He Said It To: Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
What We Learned From It: Black Album, be damned. Jay-Z is here to stay.
What was your favorite revelation from Jay-Z’s “Decoded” press tour? What’d you think of the interview? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!