Jay-Z is opening up about dealing with deeply personal issues.
In an intimate Q&A with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, the 47-year-old rapper opens up about therapy, and the issues that led to him to being unfaithful in his marriage to Beyoncé. Jay-Z reveals that he was able to find a good therapist through friends of his.
“I grew so much from the experience,” he shares. “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 happens. ‘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.?'” he continues. “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.'”
Jay-Z says it’s this attitude that led him to “shut down emotionally” when it came to his relationships, specifically, with women.
“You have to survive,” he explains. “So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode, what happens? You shut down all emotions. So, even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. … In my case, like, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity.”
Jay-Z says he and Beyoncé never sat down and planned both of their latest albums, Lemonade and 4:44, to be confessionals about their marriage.
“It didn’t happen in that way,” he stresses. “We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together. And then the music she was making at that time was further along. So, her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. We still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, ‘I’m making this album.’ I was right there the entire time.”
Not surprisingly, he admits that listening to the music made them both “very, very uncomfortable.”
“But the best place in the hurricane is in the middle of it,” he shares. “The best place is right in the middle of the pain. And that’s where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. 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,” he says of his marriage to Beyonce. “The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”
“I [talked to] Kanye the other day, just to tell him, like, he’s my brother,” he reveals. “I love Kanye. I do. It’s a complicated relationship with us.”
“‘Cause, you know — Kanye came into this business on my label,” he continues. “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.”
Still, Jay-Z admits there’s currently tension between the two.
“But that happens,” he stresses. “In the long relationship, you know, hopefully when we’re 89 we look at this six months or whatever time and we laugh at that. There’s gonna be complications in the relationship that we have to get through. And the only way to get through that is we sit down and have a dialogue and say, ‘These are the things that I’m uncomfortable with. These are the things that are unacceptable to me. This is what I feel.’ I’m sure he feels that I’ve done things to him as well. I’m not a perfect human being by no stretch.”
While Jay-Z calls West “highly evolved,” he hints that West’s behavior is at least part of what led to the problems brewing between the two.
“[West is] a very compassionate person. And a lot of times he get in trouble trying to help others,” he muses. “So, I can identify with it. It’s just that there’s certain things that happened that’s not really acceptable to me. … And we just need to speak about it. But there’s genuine love there.”
Jay-Z received a whopping eight 2018 GRAMMY nominations for 4:44, which were announced on Monday. The rapper is competing in three major categories — Album of the Year, Record of the Year (“The Story of O.J.”) and Song of the Year (“4:44”).