After dropping what maybe one of the best albums of the year in 4:44, JAY-Z has been taking the project’s theme of social issues and politics into the real world where he’s been vocal on a number of topics, including police brutality, prison reform and social equality in America. Today, the 47-year old musical icon was honored with a cover on The New York Times who commissioned Henry Taylor to paint a portrait of JAY-Z for the December cover of the style imprint T Magazine.
Along with cover, Hov also had an in-depth sit down with the NYT where he discusses therapy, marriage, the current state of rap music, politics and being an African-American in America.
Check out some of the excerpts from the interview below and watch the full video interview above.
On the meaning behind the song “The Story of O.J.”
It’s a nuanced song, you know. It’s like, I’m specifically speaking to us. And about who we are and how do you maintain the sense of self while pushing it forward and holding us to have a responsibility for our actions. Because in America, it is what it is. And there’s a solution for us: If we had a power base together, it would be a much different conversation than me having a conversation by myself and trying to change America by myself.
On teaching his kids the hardships he went through.
There’s a delicate balance to that, right? Because you have to educate your children on the world as it exists today and how it got to that space, but my child doesn’t need the same tools that I needed growing up. I needed certain tools to survive my area that my child doesn’t need. They’re growing up in a different environment. But also they have to know their history. Have a sense of what it took to get to this place. And have compassion for others. The most important thing I think out of all this is to teach compassion and to identify with everyone’s struggle and to know these people made these sacrifices for us to be where we are and to push that forward — for us. I believe that’s the most important thing to show them, because they don’t have to know things that I knew growing up. Like being tough.
On having Donald Trump as president.
The great thing about Donald Trump being president is now we’re forced to have the dialogue. Now we’re having the conversation on the large scale; he’s provided the platform for us to have the conversation.
On whether of not he faces racism despite being a famous celebrity.
Yeah. Yes. Yeah. But it mostly comes when you try to challenge the status quo. If I’m being quiet and entertaining, everyone’s cool. Ah man, it’s great. You don’t feel racism. But when you try to challenge the club, it’s like, Oh, nah, we should have a seat at — to use the Solange album title — we should have a seat at this table. And then it gets into a space where it’s like, wait, you guys are mad at me about the same thing you guys are doing. It gets into a weird space.
You can also read the full interview now through the NY Times site.
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