JAY-Z has controlled the PR around his latest album 4:44 meticulously, mostly because he can. Save for a brief talk with BBC Radio’s Clara Amfo in September, the rapper has kept pretty much everything in-house. Why do an external interview when you hold a controlling stake in Tidal, where the Rap Radar podcast has a chair ready for you? Why risk having a quote taken out of context on Twitter? And why open yourself up to an unfamiliar interviewer when you’ve cut yourself wide open over NO I.D. beats for 36 minutes?
This morning, the New York Times ran an in-depth interview with JAY-Z that you should absolutely read in full. It’s conducted by Dean Banquet, the NYT’s Executive Editor, and he's pushed JAY-Z into new places. Hov talks about entering therapy, the politics of the NBA, and the importance of OJ Simpson in the American psyche.
The really interesting stuff comes when he’s asked about Donald Trump, racism, and the state of leadership in the US. He sees Trump's catastrophic, toxic presidency as a necessary evil, a way of diagnosing a sickness. “The great thing about Donald Trump being president is now we’re forced to have the dialogue,” he says. “Now we’re having the conversation on the large scale; he’s provided the platform for us to have the conversation.”
And you think that's better? That we should be having a conversation?
Absolutely. That's why this is happening.
Do you think the debate over race in America is happening in a healthy way?
Well, an ideal way is to have a president that says, "I'm open to dialogue and fixing this." That's ideal. But it's still happening in a good way, because you can't have a solution until you start dealing with the problem: What you reveal, you heal.
Right? If I have like a tumor, and I don't know it, it doesn't mean it goes away. I have to diagnose it first. No matter how it happens. If I get hit with a football, and, like, Oh, I feel something there, and then I go to the doctor — it still happened.
When Banquet asks him about the state of leadership in the US—”Who do you, like, look at and say, ‘This man or woman speaks for the things I care about?’—JAY-Z laughs, and gives maybe the greatest possible answer.
[laughs] I find it funny, but … I like Dave Chappelle's [laughs].
[laughs] Go ahead.
You know what I'm saying?
You gonna vote for Dave Chappelle for president?
Yeah. 'Cause he tells it in humor so you can deal with it, but it's always a nice chunk of truth in there.
The whole interview is worth checking out. It’s T Magazine’s December 3 issue cover story and, man, look at this cover:
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