It starts with the promised land. This interview, between JAY-Z and Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, is filled with charisma and insight. Banquet talks about JAY-Z’s theme of reaching the promised land, which was prominent in his early albums. But that’s changed. The new album shows that there was a lot more pain than he was willing to let on in his younger days. With his characteristic thoughtfulness and eloquence, JAY-Z points to the lyrics from Song Cry, where the hook says: “I can’t see ’em comin’ down my eyes/So I gotta make the song cry”, saying it shows how much emotion he was hiding. How he had to learn to be strong enough to cry. “To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world, that’s real strength,” he explains. And he’s right.
But the conversation in this enlightening and engaging video quickly turns to significant social and political issues. It’s fascinating listening to JAY-Z discuss realizing his mother was gay during his teenage years, but not really discussing it until more recently. Now they can discuss it as friends, talking about how his mother has been able to achieve real freedom. It’s a lovely moment. But his takes on being a black man in America today are some of the most significant of the interview. “My leadership— I like Dave Chappelle,” he explains with a laugh. “.He tells it in humor so you can deal with it, but there’s always a nice chunk of truth in it.”
You can see the whole video here:
Listening to these two behemoths of their fields discuss politics, the dual messages of the OJ Simpson case, and more is a joy, full of authentic moments of introspection and political awareness. These are just the highlights, so I would recommend watching the whole interview. It’s important, now more than ever.