Oprah: Did you feel that in some kind of passionate way—like it was a calling?

Jay-Z: Yes—and that first album, Reasonable Doubt, is my favorite, because all the emotions and experiences of 26 years came out in it. That was the record I had 26 years to make.

Oprah: I just got that in a way I never have before. Reasonable Doubt is 26 years packed into one record—and that can never happen again. That's why it's your definitive album. Aha moment! So is it harder to make each successive album?

Jay-Z: It's harder for me to write music that everyone can relate to, because I don't live a typical life anymore.

Oprah: That's true. That's true. So here we are, talking on a Sunday afternoon. If you weren't sitting here with me, what would you be doing?

Jay-Z: I'm gonna get killed for this, but I'll tell you anyway. There's a great pizza spot we go to every Sunday. It's our tradition. It's a small place in Brooklyn, you can bring your own wine, and there are candles there. It's a nice date.

Oprah: And I guess you would be there with what's her name.

Jay-Z: Yeah. [Laughs]

Oprah: Do you and Beyoncé have a pact that you just won't talk about each other?

Jay-Z: Yeah. When you're a public person, you have to keep some things to yourself, or else people will just—

Oprah: Eat it up. I know. But can I ask how in the world you kept your wedding a secret?

Jay-Z: Late planning!

Oprah: How many people knew?

Jay-Z: Very few. The sad part is that we offended some. But people who love you understand. Because at the end of the day, it's your day.

Oprah: How small was the wedding?

Jay-Z: Very small. Maybe 30 people.

Oprah: And how has marriage changed you?

Jay-Z: Let me just say this: Reconnecting with my father changed me more than anything. Because it allowed me to let people in.

Oprah: Let's talk about that.

Jay-Z: Well, I always had that wall up. And whenever someone got close to me, I would shut down.

Oprah: So how did you get back in touch with your father?

Jay-Z: My mom set up a meeting. And now I realize why—it makes all the sense in the world. I remember very distinctly that I had a conversation with her in my kitchen. I was saying, "You know, Ma, I've really been trying to look inward, and maybe I'm just not meant to fall in love like other people do." She just looked at me like, "Hush up, boy."

Oprah: Wow.

Jay-Z: And I guess from that point, she figured out what was wrong with me, and she planned a meeting between me and my father. I was like, "Ma, I'm a grown man. I don't need a dad now."


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