Still riding the wave of “The Blueprint 3″ release, Jay-Z covers Interview magazine and inside talks about everything from the development of hip-hop and his music-making progress to Barack Obama’s infamous “Dirt Off The Shoulder” moment and who he really thinks deserved the VMA for “Best Female Video.”
ON CONSUMER’S “APPETITE” FOR MUSIC:
I don’t think [that's] the problem. The consumption of music is at an all-time high. But I think the ways that record companies are trying to monetize it is just all over the place. At the end of the day, music is in the clouds. Before, you could hold it, look at it, turn it around. Now, it’s just in the air. That’s where it’s gonna wind up. You won’t need a shelf or a wall unit like my mom and pop had with all these big-ass records. You’ll just need your phone to call it up.
ON BARACK & HIS “DIRT OFF THE SHOULDER” MOMENT:
It’s unbelievable because it’s so far away from where I come from. We were the kids who were ignored by every politician. We didn’t have the numbers, the vote, to put anybody in office, because no matter who was in the office, we didn’t think that it would affect change where we lived. For me, being with Obama or having dinner with Bill Clinton… It’s mind-blowing, because where I come from is just another world. We were just ignored by politicians—by America in general.
ON KANYE WEST’S “VMA” RANT:
I just think the timing of what he did was wrong, and that, of course, overshadowed everything. He believed that “Single Ladies” was a better video. I believed that. I think a lot of people believed that. You can’t give someone “Video of the Year” if they don’t win “Best Female Video.” I thought “Best Female Video” was something you won on the way to “Video of the Year.” But, hey, I guess it wasn’t—and that’s a whole other conversation about awards shows and artists. READ MORE BELOW THE GALLERY!
I just love the music. There shouldn’t be any lines. All these ways we classify things as R&B and hip-hop and rock…it’s bullshit. When people say stuff like, “Oh, that’s soft rock. I don’t listen to that,” I find that elitist. It’s music-racist. [laughs] That ‘I’m the best! No one else exists!’ [is bravado]. I forget that in terms of collaborating. I like breaking down those barriers, doing an album with Linkin Park, an album with R. Kelly, or playing at the Brandenburg Gate with Bono.
I remember Eminem came into the studio when we made “Moment of Clarity.” It’s 2003, I think The Eminem Show had come out, and he was like the biggest rapper in the world—he sold like 20 million records worldwide or some ridiculous number. I remember I hugged him, and I could feel that he had on a bulletproof vest. I couldn’t imagine being that successful. I mean, he wanted to be successful his whole career. He finally gets it, and there’s this dark cloud over him.
ON STAYING “CONNECTED”:
If you’re a guy who loves to make rap music, then you have to do it, and those 18-year-olds are where the white-hot spot is, right? That’s what everyone says. That’s the demographic that you have to go for. But you don’t get to those kids by not being honest with yourself, because those kids don’t believe what you’re rapping about, so they don’t buy into it. The challenge is just making great albums, because talent—and writing in general—is not tangible. There’s no expiration date on it. For me to put out my 11th studio album and have it connect the way it has still . . . I know it’s not Reasonable Doubt. It ain’t The Black Album, either. It’s The Blueprint 3. It’s its own album, and it has connected with a lot of people.
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