Check highlights from Jay Z’s candid interview.
On Blue Ivy liking his music better than Beyonce’s That’s not true. She does like her mother’s music—she watches [Beyoncé’s concerts] on the computer every night. But my album came out and I don’t know if Blue ever heard any of my music prior to this album—she’s only 18 months old and I don’t play my music around the house. But this album was new, so we played it. And she loves all the songs. She plays a song and she goes, ‘More, Daddy, more . . . Daddy song.’ She’s my biggest fan. If no one bought the Magna Carta [album], the fact that she loves it so much, it gives me the greatest joy. And that’s not like a cliché. I’m really serious. Just to see her—‘Daddy song, more, Daddy.’ She’s genuine, she’s honest, because she doesn’t know it makes me happy. She just wants to hear it.”
On being surrounded by crack growing up Crack was everywhere—it was inescapable. There wasn’t any place you could go for isolation or a break. You go in the hallway; [there are] crackheads in the hallway. You look out in the puddles on the curbs—crack vials are littered in the side of the curbs. You could smell it in the hallways, that putrid smell; I can’t explain it, but it’s still in my mind when I think about it.”
If he felt guilty about selling crack Not until later, when I realized the effects on the community. I started looking at the community on the whole, but in the beginning, no. I was thinking about surviving. I was thinking about improving my situation. I was thinking about buying clothes.
On how his past has helped him in business I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.
On people still believing that Beyonce did not give birth to Blue Ivy I don’t even know how to answer that. It’s just so stupid. You know, I felt dismissive about it, but you’ve got to feel for her. I mean, we’ve got a really charmed life, so how can we complain? But when you think about it, we’re still human beings. . . . And even in hip-hop, all the blogs—they had a field day with it. I’m like, We come from you guys, we represent you guys. Why are you perpetuating this? Why are you adding fuel to this ridiculous rumor?”
Jay Z on pursuing Beyonce in 2001 (Around the same time they were both featured in Vanity Fair’s Music Issue) We were just beginning to try to date each other.” Try? “Well, you know, you’ve got to try first. You got to dazzle . . . wine and dine.” He tells Robinson that “of course” he pursued Beyoncé, and when asked if he hadn’t been Jay Z—say, he had been a gas-station attendant and she pulled up—would he have been able to date her, he responds, “If I’m as cool as I am, yes. But she’s a charming Southern girl, you know, she’s not impressed. . . . But I would have definitely had to be this cool.” Jay confirms that the line on his latest album, “She was a good girl ’til she knew me” is about Beyoncé, and when Robinson asks if she’s not a good girl anymore, Jay laughs, saying, “Nah. She’s gangsta now.”
On still rapping I know I said I wouldn’t be doing it when I was 30, so that’s how I know I love it. Thirty years old was my cutoff, but I’m still here, 43 years old.