On the heels of the emotional “MaNyfaCedGod” video, JAY-Z opens up about Beyoncé, Kanye West, Solange, and himself in a rare but candid interview with TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast.
During the one-hour conversation with Elliott Wilson and Brian “B. Dot” Miller, which took place at Soho House in Malibu, Hova spoke openly about his reaction to his wife’s LEMONADE, which seemed to address infidelity in their home.
“We were working on our shit and becoming tight and super real with each other,” he said. “That shit didn’t mean nothing. It’s hard, of course. It’s difficult to go through, but the real shit…I was there the whole time, the tour, the making of the album, it was therapeutic. It was good. It’s good to deal with your shit. It’s so worth it.”
Hov dealt with his own therapeutic issues on 4:44, starting with “Kill Jay Z,” which was quickly taken as a diss towards Kanye West. Now, Hov says it was far from a shot at his “little brother.”
“It’s not even about Kanye,” he said. “It really isn’t. It’s just his name is there, right? Because it’s just honest, it’s truthful, what happened. But I’m saying, the whole point is, you got hurt because this guy was talking about you on a stage but what really hurt me was, you can’t bring my kids and my wife into it. Kanye’s my little brother. He’s talked about me a hundred times. He made a song called ‘Big Brother.’ We’ve gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it and now it’s a problem with me. Now, it’s a real, real problem.
“He knows it’s a problem because me and him would have been talked about it, we would have been resolved our issue, but he knows he crossed the line,” he added. “I know him. He knows. Not only does he have to know, I know he knows because we never let this much space go between one of our disagreements and we’ve had many. That’s part of who we are. That’s what I like about him. He’s an honest person. He’s open and he’ll say things and he’s wrong a lot of times but we’ll confront it. But that’s not the point. The point is, I was getting to the point where I said, ‘You got hurt by that.’ That’s nothing. You can’t diss somebody saying you got hurt. That’s the softest diss of all time. ‘You got hurt ’cause you did cool by ‘Ye.’ I dissed myself, actually. What are you talking about, you sucka-ass ni**a? That’s the softest shit of all time.”
Still, he acknowledged that Kanye’s onstage rant about Beyoncé and about how their children don’t play together rubbed him the wrong way. “Don’t talk about anyone’s kid onstage,” he added. “It’s too much energy. You give room for anybody to comment. Our children are already in this place where they are affected by our celebrity. Don’t go doing something that allows people to pit us against each other and talk about my child or even his child. Don’t do that.”
He then admitted that he also might have spilled too much information on the track. “The $20 million thing shouldn’t have been said,” he noted. “Sometimes, you go too far. That’s a personal thing between him and I. He knows and I know. But nothing was off the table so I’m not even gonna say it was a mistake. Nothing was off the table for this album.”
When asked if their beef is also related to their reported TIDAL-based legal issues, Hov said that was not the case. “I don’t care about none of that,” he said. “It’s Kanye’s decision and has always been his decision. I’ve never held anybody back in my life from doing anything. You can’t name one time I hold people back. From what? I don’t do that. It’s not who I am. It’s nothing about business.”
However, he says there is a chance that their bad blood will end soon. “It requires a real conversation and we’ll have it,” he said. “We’ll have it soon. I’m sure we’ll have it.”
Another reported feud that came up was the rumored rivalry between JAY and his sister-in-law Solange. “We’ve always had a great relationship,” he said. “I fought my brothers and argued with my brothers my whole life. It just so happens, who we are, these things go into a different space, but it ain’t nothing. We’ve had one disagreement ever. Before and after, we’ve been cool. She’s like my sister. I will protect her. That’s my sister. Not my sister-in-law. My sister.”
Jigga was then asked about the running joke that three great albums came from the elevator incident, referring to LEMONADE, 4:44, and A Seat at the Table. “I think we went into that elevator great artists,” he said. “That don’t surprise me. I’ve always loved Solange’s music. I think she was slept on before this album. I thought the album before this one was amazing too. Incredible artist. Bey made an incredible album before, a hundred of ’em. She literally has 100 hits. It isn’t like she didn’t have hits before this last album. It sounds good. It’s a good thing to say.”
Watch the full Q&A and read highlights from the conversation below.
ON HIS FUTURE ‘DISS’: “I thought about that line. I thought about hip-hop and I was like, ‘I really don’t mean malice. What I mean by that is, the way his situation plays out because he’s such a public figure, mine would have played out like that or maybe four times more.’ His child is in a loving environment from what I see, I don’t know. I’m not discrediting step pops in the whole world. It was just a line to say, ‘That could happen to me in my future.’ Just so happened, his name was Future, and then I just made a scheme out of it.”
ON FUTURE RIVALRY RUMOR: “I don’t have any problems with him. I don’t have a reason to try to embarrass him. It was just a rap thing. We’re so sensitive with rap, too.”
ON VULNERABILITY: “I’ve never been so open for so long. Usually, it’s one song, two songs, three songs on an album. Then, it’s sprinkled in other songs. But, for an entire album, to make 10 ‘You Must Love Me’s’ is new.”
ON VOCAL PERFORMANCE: “It gave it a vulnerability on its own. These things were just happening, as far as the vocal production. I was just doing it, and the idea came, trying to get that idea down, and then just leaving it the way it was. That’s why it’s not so polished. Somethings are out of pocket, behind the beat sometimes. Yeah, I left the shit the way it was. Like a conversation. You don’t put a conversation on beat. I know where the beat is, obviously, more than maybe anybody in history.”
ON MUSIC VIDEOS: “I didn’t want music videos. Each one is like a doc or a short or even the cartoon we made for ‘O.J.’ I wanted it to be an honest portrayal of what I was saying in the song.”
ON CUTTING ROOM FLOOR: “There was a song called ‘Black Gold’ and ‘Part 2,’ another song, which was the response to ‘Kill Jay Z’ before ‘BAM’ came in. It had this beautiful Al Green sample. Just a couple but pretty much the ones that was on the cutting room or whatever, I put on the bonus.”
ON BILLBOARD: “We don’t know how people are consuming things today. It’s all over the place. I’m an artist and it’s my music so I can do what I want with it. That’s the one thing I get. I get to present it to the world the way I like. Whether [Billboard] counts it or not is insignificant to me. It still happened. People still have the album. I still made the transaction with whomever I made the transaction with so the money came in, the album went out, it touched peoples’ hands. Whether you count it or not, it’s insignificant. It still happened.”
ON STREAMING: “I got $10 million for an album. I said, ‘With that $10 million, I’m giving it away.’ They don’t count that. But the next week, they count free Spotify spins. That’s what’s happening now. That’s what’s going on. They’re counting streams as a transaction. They’re adding that to the consumption, which is driving peoples’ numbers up. That’s why Tyler [the Creator] gets confused, because everyone does, because there’s not enough information, that TIDAL cheated when it came to Meek or something like that. If your label calls and says, ‘I want to put my album pre-pay wall,’ that’s your choice. We say, ‘Okay. We’ll put it out for free.’ We’re doing what Spotify does every day. [They count free streams on Spotify]. That’s a fact. That’s a fact-fact-fact. In fact, they count it the same as a paid stream. That has to change and that will change. I’m sure of that.”
ON TIDAL BOTS THEORY: “We’re not using robots! This is fantasy. What people are talking about…The bot system could manipulate Spotify but we don’t have a bot system. It doesn’t even make any sense. What we’re saying is, the same thing TIDAL does pre-pay wall, Spotify does every day. Everyone’s cool with it. That’s another thing I don’t understand. I don’t get that. You have to think about why that is. Why does TIDAL take so much criticism for the same thing that Spotify does?”
ON WHY TIDAL GETS CRITICIZED: “I don’t think anything is personal. It could be a lot of things. It could be self-hate. We have that thing. Somebody that’s like you…Like Lavar Ball, I like to talk about other people so it’s not a personal thing with me. Lavar Ball said ‘I’m gonna start my own company.’ Everybody’s like, ‘You should sign to Nike.’ He may go about things wrong, he may have a big mouth. But I bought three pairs. I didn’t get ’em, but that man has a vision of his own. Why wouldn’t I support him? … Why do we get so upset, as a culture, when one of us wants to start our own shit? That shit puzzling to me. It makes no sense. Why can’t he start a sneaker company?”
ON MONEY PHONES: “I didn’t even tell people to stop using the money phone. I didn’t say that. It doesn’t say that anywhere. I had to listen again. How is this being misinterpreted. I just said it ain’t money to us. It ain’t. That’s just an honest statement. Money to us is me and my three friends on the floor in Golden State. Not because the seats are expensive but because that’s what we’re doing here. You never seen that. Or building brands and pushing them forward. That can’t be the end-all. That can’t be our goal, to get money and show it on the Internet. That’s some corny shit. You can do it. I’ve been saying it. ‘Chains is cool to cop, but more important is lawyer fees.’ That’s my first album. I’ve always been trying to give people game. Here, learn from my experiences.”
ON APPLE: “I don’t have any problem. Me and Jimmy [Iovine] are cool. Me and Jimmy was here last week, in this very place…We speak but I have to tell the truth and if they understand it, then we can continue to be friends and if they don’t understand that truth, then that ain’t really on me. That’s just how it goes. I gotta continue to tell the truth, pushing forward, and represent for us. I’ma always represent for us. I have always represented for us. ‘I’m overcharging ni**as for what they did to the Cold Crush.’ I meant that. I sit right here in the same place.”
ON TIDAL: “I think it’s important for us share in some of the things that we move. I think it’s important, even if I, at some point, failed, that people see. Maybe the next person will see the things that I have done wrong, like that terrible press conference. I would never do that again, the launch of the entire thing. Things like that, that I’ve done wrong, that I’ll never do again. I thought it was wrong. I thought it was a bunch of big artists complaining about money and it wasn’t even about that. I do things for different reasons. The reason we had to rush and do that was because I got the company and it had my name on it. I didn’t want it to be about me. I wanted it to be about all the people, all the owners, everybody that owned it, so I tried to rush that, and it came out on a bad note, as opposed to saying, let it be what it’s gonna be, and then we’re just gonna do it right. That was a powerful lesson for me. No matter what, don’t let anyone rush your process. It’s gonna always look like that.”