He's a five-time Grammy winner, the CEO and president of hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings, and one of the most successful rappers of our time. Jay-Z talks with Gayle about his childhood, his career in the music industry and about coming out of retirement to release his new CD.
On his new album, Kingdom Come, Jay-Z says he tried to take a fresh approach to rap. "I was fearless about it, to record music that is not in my lane," he says. "I know the type of music I can make that will sell all day. But it was time to make adult hip-hop…I had to take it somewhere else. It was the right and the smart thing to do, [and] no matter how the album [sells], it was the right thing to do for the future of what we're doing."
Jay-Z also talks about growing up in Brooklyn. Jay-Z says he was raised by a single mother after his parents divorced. "For any child, your pops is like a superhero—nobody can beat your pops and you do everything your pops does," he says. "So initially, it was difficult, but because of my mom and how strong she was…I think I turned out okay." In addition, Jay-Z says he is close with his sisters and brother, and still considers them his support team.
Despite his fame, Jay-Z says he's really shy at heart and isn't jaded by his celebrity status. "It's way past anything that I can imagine," he says of how far he has come. "Growing up in Brooklyn, a normal dream for a normal kid there is to become a basketball player, which is a very, very difficult dream. But to have ownership in a team [Jay-Z is part owner of the New Jersey Nets]—what is that? I don't even understand what that is!"