Jay Z and Oprah

Photo: Rob Howard

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Jay Z
October 2009

Oprah: How did you decide to leave the streets for good?

Jay Z: I started seeing people go to jail and get killed, and the light slowly came on. I was like, "This life has no good ending."

OW: That is so fascinating to me. Because what crack did to the community—drug dealers were a part of that. When you were dealing, did you not see yourself as a part of the problem?

J: Later. Looking back. Not while I was in it. I didn't know the effect it was having.... We used to say all the time, "Man, her life is all messed up—she used to be so cute. She was fine six months ago. Look at her, she's finished." But you never thought you contributed to that.

Read the full interview from the October 2009 issue.