jay-z at the new york public library

last night a few of us had a chance to see jay-z at the new york public library, in conversation with dr. cornell west and paul holdengräber, the director of public programs at the library. it was a rare event to see one of the most celebrated hip-hop artists speak in public, about his life and his forthcoming memoir ‘decoded.’ the book is part- biography and part-explication of jay-z’s songs, and a much more interesting read than most may think.

the evening provided insight into the artists’ career and history, but not much was revealed about future endeavors as he’s always one to surprise his fans and detractors. highlights of the evening were learning that the chorus of ’99 problems’ actually referred to a K-9 police unit, and that jay-z was now somewhat ashamed of the lyrics from ‘big pimpin.’

the book itself is a substantial tome, mostly dedicated to providing footnotes to his lyrics, with interspersed biographical segments. it’s worth checking out: upon reading it, you’ll get a sense that no one else could have made something like this, and there’s quite a bit of merit to that.


janet jackson: pleasure principal

reed and rader: bots