I just caught a few minutes of an interview between NPR and Jay-Z, about his book Decoded.
The interviewer attempts to convey to Jay-Z, that Charles Strouse, the writer for the original song that was sampled and worked into “Hard Knock Life”, on that pivotal hit that introduced Jay-Z to the mainstream hip-hop culture, respected the fact that Jay-Z felt that the song was gritty, because that is what he was after when he wrote the song.
An awkward pause, and Jay-Z does not know how what to do with the information.
This was the first of many, many, uncomfortable situations in the interview. Then I realize that part of the tension, is that the interviewer is either completely ignorant of hip-hop culture, and poor, inner city culture as well, or has a clear bias against hip-hop.
So Jay-Z tries to posit his growth as an artist, and a performer, and the interviewer keeps coming at him as though he had just started performing yesterday. It felt disrespectful; like it was 1985 all over again and this was one of those awkward MTV News interviews from back in the day.
You all know by now I am not a fan of Jay-Z, for a few reasons. One is that I have not seen much growth from him over the last decade. At 42, he still talks about topics that someone 27 years of age would. Spiritually, I am not really sure where he is at; he throws around the idea of Freemasonry a lot, but I think it is a just a thinly veiled marketing vehicle for where his fans want to go, as a lot of them throw around the idea of being part of the Occult casually.
Which all brings me to this; do you have an intellectual curiosity about hip-hop (even if it is about the decidedly anti-intellectualism that is par for the course of mainstream hip-hop), or are you a true fan, or do you not even think about hip-hop.
Jay-Z may be one of the richest artists out there, and is clearly, the most charismatic businessmen in the hip-hop game, but if you have an intellectual curiosity, and a pragmatic ignorance of the genre, you might want to interview someone that is more in alignment to whom we would believe you might think about listening to if you were to ever buy a hip-hop album, like Mos Def, or Immortal Technique.
I have a hard time believing that your $10 would be spent on the next Jay-Z record.