Although JAY-Z laid relatively low for a significant chunk of 2017, the surprise release of his 4:44 audiovisual project propelled him back into the spotlight by the year’s end. His thirteenth studio album was praised by critics and fans alike, and the legendary rapper was recently nominated for a whopping eight Grammy Awards.

At the culmination of a seriously impressive 2017, JAY-Z sat down with New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet for an in-depth conversation on everyone from O.J. Simpson to Kanye West, and everything from therapy to his Grammy-nominated album 4:44. Read what we learned from his T Magazine interview below, and check out the full video at the bottom of the page.

Thanks to therapy, he learned that everything is connected, including his past infidelity

I grew so much from the experience. But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a … you’re at such an advantage. You know, you realize that if someone’s racist toward you, it ain’t about you. It’s about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point. You know, most bullies bully. It just happen. Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me. I understand.

And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, “Aw, man, is you O.K.?” I was just saying there was a lot of fights in our neighborhood that started with “What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?” And then you realize: “Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.”

He later discusses being in “survival mode” and shutting down his emotions – “then all the things happen from there: infidelity …”

Kanye West is like a brother to him, but it’s complicated.

‘Cause, you know — Kanye came into this business on my label. So I’ve always been like his big brother. And we’re both entertainers. It’s always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother. And we both love and respect each other’s art, too. So it’s like, we both — everyone wants to be the greatest in the world. You know what I’m saying? And then there’s like a lot of other factors that play in it. But it’s gonna, we gonna always be good.

He would vote for Dave Chappelle for president.

After speaking about Obama’s legacy, JAY-Z explains he’d vote for comedian Dave Chapelle for president of the United States, “’cause he tells it in humor so you can deal with it, but it’s always a nice chunk of truth in there.”

He initially didn’t have his mother’s permission for his 4:44 song “Smile”

One of the many high points of JAY-Z’s Grammy-nominated album was “Smile,” where he speaks about his mother’s new-found sexuality. The pair became closer largely in part to the “beautiful conversations” they had with each other.
“We never spoke about [her being gay],” revealed JAY. “Until, like, recently, now we start having these beautiful conversations, and just really getting to know each other. We were always good friends but now we’re really great friends. You know. And we were just talking as friends. And then she was sharing that she was in love. She can be herself [now]. She doesn’t have to hide for her kids or feel like she’s embarrassing her kids. It was a much different time then. [Now] she can just live her full life, her whole life, and be her.”

He opens up about his relationship with Beyoncé and how she’s “really proud” of 4:44

“We had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released, he said. “And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing.”

“You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”

Watch footage of the full interview below.

In other music news, N.E.R.D. just dropped the second single from their upcoming album ‘No_One Ever Really Dies.’ Listen to “1000” featuring Future right here.

  • Cover Image: Suzanne Corderio / Getty Images
Associate Music Editor

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