The greatest music, renowned hip-hop artist Jay-Z told Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” Wednesday, has the ability to connect with all kinds of people, regardless of background.
â€œAfter we take the labels â€“ black, white, male, female â€“ after we take off the labels, we basically want the same thing, we love the same things,â€� Jay-Z explained. â€œThe commonality of those emotions: angst, fear, aspirationâ€¦ [A]t the core of great music is some of those emotions [and] thatâ€™s what people connect to.â€�
Yet in spite of that, rap hasn’t been viewed as a respectable art form, Jay said. â€œIt was viewed as a fad, and then it became a scapegoat for everything in America,” he told Stewart. Not that heâ€™s talking about all rap â€“ â€œbecause some of it is [expletive],â€� he said â€“ but rather â€œprovocative, great rap based on real life subjects and emotions…[I]tâ€™s almost like being attacked for saying whatâ€™s happening anyway. Whether rap existed or not these things were going on in the community, daily.â€�
With his recently released book, â€œDecodedâ€� â€“ which tells the backstory to many of his raps throughout his career as well as shining a bit of spotlight on his biography â€“ Jay hopes to give listeners more context to what theyâ€™re hearing.
â€œI care about the culture and about rap and it being a respectable form of art. The book is surrounding these songs, but itâ€™s also about a generation of kids; we grew up around the same time as rap. It was a whole thing that was going on with Reaganomics and crack cocaine in the neighborhoods,â€� Jay said. â€œThereâ€™s basically a story behind those songs, thereâ€™s context. So if you hear N.W.A.â€™s â€˜F- Tha Policeâ€™ without seeing the Rodney King beating, you donâ€™t understand why theyâ€™re saying what theyâ€™re saying.â€�
But in order for rap to have longevity, Jay went on, â€œwe have to stop viewing it as a young manâ€™s sport and view it as music, as a serious art form. In order to do that we have to grow it, we have to tackle mature subjects. You canâ€™t talk about the same things you talked about when you were 20, 30-years-old. But thatâ€™s the white hot spot for rap; everyoneâ€™s still trying to do that â€“ make a big club record.â€�
But not necessarily Jay-Z. At 40, the artist realizes that he needs to reflect his current reality more so than his past.
â€œI found with my career,â€� he told Stewart, â€œthat you have more longevity when you get closer to the truth.â€�