It started with post notifications. A viral public storm of reposts, released on the 1st of December, a video surfaced that Jay-Z had just interviewed with the New York Times. What was the big deal? Yes, interviews at the esteemed NYT building with renowned journalist Dean Baquet are indeed a big deal. But still, why the timing? While currently undergoing the media mayhem of sexual assault allegations, taking knees at the football games for racial injustice, and of course Trump (which houses everything combined and more), why Jay-Z? Jay-Z, who turns 48 on December 4th, is here because he has something to say.
Instead of reviewing the interview in its entirety, I wanted to talk about how it affected me. When it comes to the Birth of Hip Hop platform, film stands as its precedence, serving as a tool to liberate the stories and elements of people and the culture that has led to these creative works that can impact the world today. In film, particularly interviews, there is this necessity to gain the core of the visionary. Gaining answers to some of the most prolific and Underground talents to ask them “What led you to create? How did this become a movement?
I noticed that with everything going on in the world, there is a bridge (a relation) between the art of Hip Hop, Jay-Z, and the #MeToo movement which supports women who have been assaulted. It’s the rebellion. The Hip Hop movement included six elements which are: Consciousness Awareness, Civil Rights Awareness, Activism Awareness, Justice, Political Awareness, Community Awareness in music. It serves as a public platform to not only entertain but enlighten listeners of the struggle, the oppressed, and those who through lyrics to connect with others. Jay-Z, himself, an iconic figure in Hip-Hop has done just that but through this interview focuses on vulnerability and living the “authentic self” which is a commonality of these elements. With #MeToo, the movement is beyond empowerment but giving a voice for women to be heard. So, in relation to all three, Hip Hop, Jay-Z, and the #MeToo represent the voice, to share the story, to create this movement with the masses.
That is why this interview…is a big deal.
Jay-Z’s imprint in Hip Hop has predominately been about his music. Having a body of work that includes thirteen solo studio albums, three collaboration albums, one live album, five compilation albums, one soundtrack album, two extended plays, one hundred and fifteen singles (including forty-five as a featured artist), nine promotional singles and eighty-two music videos. Nevertheless, this interview was about his story. Baquet opens up comparing Jay-Z’s past work to his most recent album 444, calling it the “Reach in the Promise land” and how the tune has changed for him. Jay-Z, who has acquired wealth and fame, known for discussing the opulence of stardom, now is talking vulnerability, infidelity, and what song makes him cry.
“Being vulnerable in front of the world, that’s real strength,” says Jay-Z. No topic was off limits in this conversation. He talks of his mother’s sexuality and applauding the Love is Love anthem, referencing that happiness is all the matters. He talks of his marriage in his music, and having that serve as therapy with a responsibility as an artist to share that truth with the world. He goes into Leadership, politics and the people.
Watch Jay-Z with Dean Baquet of The New York Times here:
With Birth of Hip Hop, the main goal is to showcase the evolution of the genre with relation to its role in the world to demonstrate a voice, the unification of all people, and the art (broken down into many fragments) will be foreground of where stories are told. In Jay-Z’s interview using art for the voice can not only create an awareness but the lifestyle as people to be authentic as well as a survivor.
“You don’t turn your back on the place you come from, you come from a community, your job is to uplift it now.”