It turns out that the smash hit album 4:44 was a lot more than just great music making for rap legend Jay-Z. The entire process was therapeutic, cathartic. It was also a confessional about deeply personal issues and marital failings.
In a one-on-one Q-and-A with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, the 47-year-old rapper opens up about therapy, and the issues that led to him to being unfaithful in his marriage to wife of nine years, Beyoncé.
Jay-Z says, luckily for him, he was able to find a good therapist through friends in order to get to the bottom of what motivated his wayward behavor.
“I grew so much from the experience,” Jay said. “But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. … You know, you realize that if someone’s racist toward you, it ain’t about you. It’s about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point. You know, most bullies bully. It just happens. ‘Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me.’ I understand.
“And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, ‘Aw, man, is you OK?’ ” he continues. … And then you realize: ‘Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.’ “
Jay-Z says it’s this attitude that led him to “shut down emotionally” when it came to his relationships, specifically, with women.
“You have to survive,” he explains. “So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode, what happens? You shut down all emotions. So, even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. … In my case, like, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity.”
Jay-Z says he and Beyoncé never actually sat down and planned both of their latest albums, Lemonade and 4:44, to be confessionals about their marriage. It just happened that way because that’s where they both were emotionally.
Hov said listening to his wife’s music made them both “very, very uncomfortable.”
“You know, most people walk away, and, like, divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves,” he says of his marriage to Beyonce. “The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”
Check out the New York Times for the entire interview with Jay-Z.