Jay-Z’s Interviews After Magna Carta Release: Things We Learned

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By Maurice Bobb

Jay-Z and his King Tut-esque gold chain literally shut down New York City radio Tuesday (July 9) and Wednesday (July 10) when he visited Hot 97’s radio show with Angie Martinez and Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, respectively, for rare interviews and for the first time in years, he let down his guard and opened up about the man behind the lyrical myth. Topics broached included Beyonce, Dame Dash, Memphis Bleek, and what his career might’ve been if the Notorious B.I.G. were still alive.

Peppered among the requisite questions about his luxe new LP, Magna Carta Holy Grail, which is projected to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart despite the one million already sold via his deal with Samsung, were those of the personal variety, most notably about his wife, Beyoncé, old business partner Dame Dash and, of course, his longevity in the rap game, which has been stitched with historic moments that include beef with Nas, the failed joint album experiment with R. Kelly and almost signing Lil Wayne to Roc-A-Fella.

Between the cumulative 90 minutes he spent on the air fielding questions, here are the most revealing things we learned about Hov outside of little gems like “religion is like a personal computer” and “I can walk and chew gum.”

On problems with Samsung album download for fans:
“I can’t even imagine waiting for Rakim’s album at 12 o’clock and I couldn’t get it and I downloaded — I did everything right. On the 24th, I downloaded my app, I set it, I watched the clock count down and at 12 ‘clock I couldn’t get it. For me that’s not cool. That’s a loss. That has to get better. The next person now knows how to go into it better, which is cool and that’s my job. I took the hit for that.”

On the RIAA changing their rules for MCHG:
“If you did 500,000 digital, 200 thousand, whatever the metrics is, they should certify what’s digital. It should’ve been happening. I was just the agent of change.”

(Jay-Z’s subway pal Ellen Grossman reviews Magna Carta Holy Grail)

Impromptu Twitter takeover:
“That was addictive. I can’t be on Twitter. It’s like weed. I like it, but too much of it is not good for me.”

Relationship with Nas post-’Ether’:
“It was a moment in time that was a great moment for hip-hop, but for us, we really have a good relationship. We laugh. That thing is so far past. And I understand why even today that thing is, I guess, 11 years old and people are still fascinated with it. But it’s so far in the background.”

Would he do a joint album with Nas?:
“Not at this point. Any other collaboration album would have to be with Kanye because there’s chemistry there and we already know how we work. I don’t really have the time to figure out those situations and how a person works. It’s hard to do, especially if you’re gonna make something great. The hardest thing ever was going through those R. Kelly albums. You just never know how the situation is gonna turn out.”

Thoughts on Dame Dash’ struggles:
“The thing we built, you can’t take that away so no matter what, the love is still there. Because what we’ve done will forever be stamped in history. We created something that’s gonna go down forever. So I can only have love for Dame. I just don’t know where we are in our life. We’re not the same two men at that time when we gelled in that way. I haven’t seen him in a while. I have ultimate confidence in him that he’ll find his way ’cause he’s an amazing and smart guy. He’s a hustler and he’s highly intelligent, so I always root for him and always believe that he’ll find his way out of it. But I can’t control what happens life.”


(Wondagurl explains how she ended up producing on Magna Carta Holy Grail)

Memphis Bleek:
“It’s almost the little brother syndrome. He had it more so than anybody because he really grew up with me. He really grew up on the third floor in the same projects from me, so he had my shadow on him the whole time. So whether I said those things or not, it was just there. Me saying those things was actually trying to deflect some of it away from him. I wasn’t trying to put more on him. It was just elephant in the room.”

Artist’s career he’s most proud of having a hand in:
“You have to say Kanye West, the most successful at this stage of his career. And his growth and the progress that he’s made is unbelievable. When he first came in, he wasn’t the artist that he is today, but he always aspired to be. From that moment, the moment when he walked through the door, when he was the producer, he had it in his eyes. He was saying stuff like, ‘I am the savior of Chicago!’ And I was like, what are you even talking about? You don’t even have a single.’ But he proved to be prophetic in that way.”

Will there be a Watch the Throne 2:
“Yeah, hopefully.”

Parents’ divorce:
“They were together my early years, till I was 9 or something. That’s what made it worse—’cause I knew. Some people don’t even get to feel that sort of love at all so you can’t miss what you don’t have. It’s still this empty feeling. There’s more of an empty feeling having it then having it taken away from you.”

On speculation that he wouldn’t be where he is, if Biggie Smalls were alive:
“That’s ridiculous. I was here while Biggie was here. I think, like I said, steel sharpen steel. We were working and the album we were going to create together only made me better as a lyricist. And it’s just like that’s God’s plan. It’s just like saying Biggie wouldn’t be here if Rakim had been on the Faith remix. It’s like you can make up any scenario in your mind why a person shouldn’t be here or a person wouldn’t attain the success that they have but I personally don’t believe anybody could have stop me and that’s just how I believe. I was coming, I was destined to be here.”

Thoughts on up-and-coming rappers:
“I even heard someone say, ‘Yo, why Jay won’t let Kanye…?’ Let Kanye? Kanye is Kanye. He’s gonna do what he does. That’s a loser’s mentality… You gotta be able to compete. Steel sharpens steel. You gotta get out there and you gotta earn your spot. It’s not given. It’s such a spoiled brat loser’s mentality.”

Ridiculous Beyoncé pregnancy rumors:
“That’s probably the most ridiculous thing I ever heard and the fact that people were really running with that…at first I thought it was one of those get-press things like ‘let’s run with this for press’ and then I was slowly like ‘oh ya’ll believe this…ya’ll really believe this? That’s really messed up because that’s the time that you’re meant to be most joyous. The whole thing [is] supposed to be a joyous time…whether you say you care about it or not is annoying…and you shouldn’t really have to deal with that as a human being but you know that’s the position that we’re in. No matter how many times you say ‘Beyonce’s pregnant!’ people are gonna believe what they want to believe.”

Does he want more kids?:
“Absolutely. God willing… A little basketball team.”