For years, fans have debated the meaning of Jay-Z’s lyrics, but now they’ll get the complete backstories on some of his most iconic songs in his first book, Decoded, which hits stores on November 16.
In the book, Jay-Z narrates his life story by breaking down 36 of his songs, which will be accompanied by illustrations. Jay’s motives for publishing the book may be personal, but he hopes Decoded will prove that hip-hop is a fine-art form like poetry.
“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted it to do three important things,” Jay-Z explained in a statement. “The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics — not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC — are poetry if you look at them closely enough. The second was I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”
In a video posted on Amazon to promote the book, Jay also revealed details about how he’ll break down his songs in Decoded, including the inspiration behind “Most Kingz.” “‘Most Kingz’ just happened to be inspired by a Basquiat drawing,” Jay said. “He had ‘Most young kings get their head cut off’ on the bottom, and I looked at that and was like — it’s powerful. Just the statement in itself lends itself to a song.”
Watch the video below.
In related Jay-Z news, the hip-hop entrepreneur recently attended the Forbes 400 Summit in Omaha, Nebraska, where he moderated discussion with finance mogul Warren Buffet over lunch. Check out excerpts from the Forbes interview here.