Photos by Amy Price (JAY-Z) and Joshua Mellin (Kanye)
JAY-Z has seen his image soften quite a bit since his “Big Pimpin'” days, thanks in no small part to marriage and parenthood. Earlier this year, the offered a remarkably intimate look at his life and struggles with 4:44. He’s equally candid in a new interview with T, the New York Times fashion magazine. The extensive discussion with executive editor Dean Baquet touched on numerous topics, from the Grammy-nominated (and CoS year-end favorite) 4:44, to therapy, to O.J. Simpson. For music fans, some of the most interesting revelations came near the end of the discussion.
Admitting that it was a “gossipy question,” Baquet asked about JAY-Z’s relationship with his former protege, Kanye West. The former Watch the Throne collaborators have had a following out in recent years, with the feud coming to a head last year when Kanye publicly called out Jay-Z from the stage of his Saint Pablo tour. More recently, Kanye threatened a lawsuit against JAY-Z’s streaming music platform, TIDAL, over a breach of contract.
Despite the ill feelings, Hov says there’s still plenty of love. “I [talked to] Kanye the other day, just to tell him, like, he’s my brother,” he said. “I love Kanye. I do. It’s a complicated relationship with us.”
Expanding on the complications, he said some stem from the “underlying competition” between brothers both trying “to be the greatest in the world.” He continued,
“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. You know what I’m saying? These are — I’m not a perfect human being by no stretch… 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.”
The discussion then switched to Beyoncé and her album Lemonade, which publicly addressed his infidelity. According to JAY-Z, the content of the record was never a secret to him, as they were actually working on a collaborative album (!!) when Bey’s work started to refocus on solo material.
“We were using our art almost like a therapy session,” he explained. “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…. And this is what it became.” For those teased by that mention of a joint effort, he added, “Um, we still have a lot of that music.”
He concluded by praising his wife’s work and their willingness to fight through the dark times:
“It was uncomfortable. And 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. 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.”
You can read the entire interview here, where you’ll also find a link to watch the entire discussion go down.