Crack;

this could have easily been the title. ‘Crack’ is the first entry, according to thesaurus.com as a synonym for decode. Although, it’s quite possible no one finds the humor and irony in ‘Crack’ as the title like me. Instead, Jay-Z has entitled his debut book ‘Decode’. Reading the press releases and promotions for the book made me think of one big album booklet with all the lyrics and pictures from the album and its process. The real deal will be this on a larger scale.

Jay-Z and dream hampton (former editor of ‘The Source’ and contributor to publications like Harpers Bazaar, Essence and others) have collaborated to provide a peephole into the soul that is Jay-Z. A detailed look at lyrics to several songs he chose, the event(s) that inspired those lyrics, and what it took to come up with and record them. A more biographical view is said to be packed inside this text also. In a Rolling Stone article, author Daniel Kreps writes: “Jay-Z also admitted he was most affected by parts of Decoded that concerned his father, who abandoned the family when Jay-Z was 11. “It was still wrong, at the end of the day, but he did stick around at a time where it wasn’t particularly cool or popular,” Jay-Z said. “He married my mom at a time when guys were just leaving, and you’d never even meet your dad. So it made me ease up a little bit in how I felt about him.”

<promo for the book>

<video from debut at Miami’s Delano Hotel>

So far the details are limited. The small ones revealed in interviews have been intriguing to say the least. In a recent one with MTV, Jay-Z reveals that ‘Public Service Announcement’ is one of the songs (36 total ) that made the book. He goes into detail about the second verse and how it was spawned after a journalist questioned his wardrobe decisions. ‘The Jesus piece is hitting his head” remarked the journalist referring to Jay-Z’s chain resting atop a Che Guevara screen printed t-shirt.  “That [experience] inspired the entire verse. ‘I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex.’ It’s the whole entire story of how and why I came to write that second verse on ‘PSA.’ ” (from the MTV interview)

This book, due out 10/16, along with his greatest hits collection due 10/22 will be an opportunity for fans to get deeper in than before, new listeners better understanding, and even the opposition a chance to be sure they know what they oppose. I’m pre-ordering on Amazon after this post.

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