Jay-Z BBC Radio 1 Interview (May 2004):
To listen to Jay-Z's interview conducted in May 2004 by the UK's largest radio station, BBC Radio 1, simply click on the two links below. The links require you to have Real Player installed onyour PC, you can get Real Player for free by clicking here. In the 20 minute interview Jay-Z is quizzed on many aspects of his life, both public and personal, ranging from his work within the music industry past and present, to his favourite Playstation games and what he does with his free time.
» Click here to listen to part 1 of Jay-Z's interview » Click here to listen to part 2 of Jay-Z's interview
Jay-Z 'Blueprint For Success' Interview (2001):
Below is the actual interview transcript from vh1.com's interview with Jay-Z conducted in 2001. The interview focuses on discussing Jay-Z's then current hip hop project at the time, his sixth studio album, 'Blueprint'.
VH1: This is your sixth album in as many years. Did you plan it that way, or did you just catch a wave?
Jay-Z: My plan was just to do one album in the beginning. But I really started getting into a groove as far as recording. The more I do, the more I just want to do better albums. That's what I do. Every year since 1996, I've dropped an album … It would be fast for a lot of artists, but it's really on schedule for me.
VH1: Do you feel this is your best album yet?
Jay-Z: It's definitely up there, but I feel that all the time, so it ain't for me to say. It's for the people to say.
VH1: At this time last year, you were working on the Dynasty album. You seemed to be going through a lot, and it showed in the emotional songs on the album. This time around, it sounds like you're going through even more personal changes. How do you stay focused?
Jay-Z: I'm a person that believes everything that happens to you in life shapes you as a person. Every struggle, every challenge, everything that is placed in front of you is to see how … much stronger a person you're gonna become. Any problem that you've had in your life, you look back [at problems] and remember saying "I'm never ever gonna get over this. This is the worst thing ever. How am I gonna go on from here?" But you look back and … they're all behind you.
VH1: What's the message of the "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" video? What's up with that float?
Jay-Z: It's like a ticker-tape parade. We're just celebrating, like we're up for re-election … In rap, everything moves so fast. You can be on top of your game and next year you're not. I just want to let them know I'm still right there. I'm right here on top.
VH1: It seems like the Roc-A-Fella albums have titles with meaning, or concepts, in them. Your Dynasty album, Beanie's was The Reason and [Memphis] Bleek's The Understanding. Is there an overall concept?
Jay-Z: You can't just go in and make an album all over the place. You won't have any focus, 'cause then the songs start sounding like, "What you trying to do?" Like, "This is my West Coast song. This is my song for the girls. This is my crossover, big pop song." If you don't have no foundation, no structure to what you want to talk about, then it just comes out all over the place.
VH1: What's the concept behind The Blueprint?
Jay-Z: The Blueprint is two different things. It's the blueprint of my life, the things that made me the way I am, that shaped me - all my beliefs and ideas to date. There's also a blueprint for rappers in this business. The songs are like a person in that situation. How would they deal? Coming off the streets, you got Reasonable Doubt. That album was just carefree. Then, the next album [Vol. 3 ... Life & Times of S. Carter] was about dealing with the transition from being in the streets to being in the music business.
VH1: Would you say this is one of the most personal albums you've ever made?
Jay-Z: I'd say all of them were personal and had something to do with my life. That's the inspiration for my music. I have a song called "The Blueprint." It's about how my momma loves me, it says my sister's real name … It's really accurate about my life from the beginning to right now … With vocabularies so vast, I could make you a whole album full of stories. The challenge for me is to make it close to what I've seen and still rhyme.
VH1: In "Song Cry" you're referring to a woman and it sounds pretty serious.
Jay-Z: It's like a grown-up "Ain't No Nigga." It's basically dealing with the same thing: a street guy. He's got a woman, a good girl, and she's there for him. But once you're on the streets, your focus is not there. You're running around with all types of girls, just being reckless and unfocused.
VH1: You also have Eminem on the album, on the song "Renegade." How did that happen?
Jay-Z: Me and Em always do interviews, and we always say we're gonna do something together. It just came up. No one else is on the album. I was just like, "I respect the dude as a lyricist, he's dope." I got even a further respect for him after doing this song.
VH1: It seemed like your performance at the BET Awards a few months ago was geared to test out the new single. Did you expect some feedback and what did you do with it?
Jay-Z: When I first made the record, I was like, "This is it, it's done." I was calling everybody. That's what I do when I feel like I got the record finished, I start calling everybody and saying, "Come to the studio, you've got to hear this" … I just wanted to put it out there like that. My friends are very opinionated; they argue for days over my records. They say, "Don't put that one out there, trust me. You got to put out this one." [Laughs]
VH1: Do you take their feedback so seriously that you might kill a song you like?
Jay-Z: I've lost records, definitely.
VH1: Was the idea to go back to the essence of your sound for this one, like you did on Reasonable Doubt?
Jay-Z: Growing up, my mom and pops played a lot of soul music. If I was gonna do "the blueprint," it had to be [the right] music in the background. So I used a lot of soul samples, because that's what I grew up on. I used a lot of that to give it that feel from back then, so those emotions and all those thoughts can come up easier. It's like [snaps his fingers].
VH1: A lot of rappers have targeted you in their lyrics. Do all the disses push you to make more albums? Or does it take you out of focus?
Jay-Z: Nah, it's always been like that. Rappers don't really like each other, they never did. It's just so competitive. You have to be a really strong person and be secure about yourself not to feel envy. Rap is a competitive sport. That's how it was built … When you add money to the equation, a lot of feelings come up. I've watched the game. Every person that was on top went through it. I don't know if they ever went through it to this degree.
VH1: Are you surprised at all by how many people are doing it? It's got to make you think, "Everyone must be targeting me because I'm hot."
Jay-Z: It don't bother me. I accept the challenge. I think I can hold my own as far as challenging rappers.
VH1: Nas recently took a shot at you. A lot of people think the top dogs always battle. Is it something serious, or is this going to stay strictly on wax?
Jay-Z: We're not stupid people. If these guys really had a problem with me — outside of me as a hot rapper — I'm sure they wouldn't put it on records. That wouldn't make sense to me. That's how I know it's just music. Once it comes out on a CD or a mixed tape for the whole world to hear it that you have a problem with this person, then I know there's nothing there.
VH1: Are you and DMX at odds at all?
Jay-Z: Nah. I actually spoke to DMX on the phone. We go back a long way, battling on the pool table. There's a huge mutual respect level there. Everyone's in contact with each other. It's not like we don't see or don't speak to each other. I really like it like this in a weird way, because it's just a feeling that people be feeling inside. Sometimes they be around and they give you five and they hug you and say, "Yo, we should just do this together. We're unstoppable." That's not real. I'd rather just be real, man.
VH1: There was a mixed tape circulating recently in New York where you were saying, "This is the end. I'm not making any more of these dis records." You've never come out and said that in an interview, but does that really mean all this beefing is dead?
Jay-Z: It is what it is. Going further is almost pointless to me. How many times am I gonna address this or that? People know. If they don't know by now, then there's a problem. This is gonna sound real cocky, but … I even try to give dudes … like, I'll wait [to respond]. [I'm saying] "Make two more [dis songs], 'cause when I make this record, there's gonna be a problem." Because I'm not being lazy with it. I'm not playing around. I'm gonna do my research and come back with something real serious, and it's gonna be hot. A lot of the times they make songs, or little mix tapes, and the only reason people play it is because they say something about somebody. That shouldn't be the focus. If you're gonna really get at me, or if you're gonna get at somebody on that level … if I was gonna get at somebody on that level, I make sure I come with my best first … You're gonna have to make a mega song.
VH1: You brought Michael Jackson to Hot 97's Summer Jam. How did you get that hooked up?
Jay-Z: I just asked him.
VH1: Did you have a relationship with him before that?
Jay-Z: Yeah, we've been talking about doing a remix on his album for "You Rock My World." We were talking on the phone, and he was talking about "Hard Knock Life" one day. He was talking about how in the pocket it was. I was looking at the phone like, "That's bugged out!" He's like, "Boom, ba, boom." I mean the rhythms, the way he was rapping, was so in the pocket. I'm like, "This is Michael Jackson!" So I just asked him and he was like, "Cool."
VH1: You're also working on a duet with him for your album, right?
Jay-Z: I'm gonna hold it out. It's not going to make the album. I'm probably gonna put it on the album around Christmas, like an added bonus. Because it's a special song.
VH1: Are you going to tour for this album?
Jay-Z: I got a ballroom tour going out at the same time as the album. I'm just gonna go to venues that hold 3,000-4,000 people. I've been doing shows for 20,000 people, and you can't even see everybody. It's cool and I appreciate the energy, but sometimes you want to be able to look upstairs and see everybody. Before every album I try to go back into the clubs and play the smaller venues so I can get that intimate vibe back.
VH1: You're also working with Timbaland again.
Jay-Z: Yeah, I love working with Timbaland. Me and him go in the studio with no track, no lyrics. We just sit there and say, "Wassup?"
VH1: He doesn't just fly you out a track?
Jay-Z: No. Right there he just starts making it up. [I'm like], "Yeah, yeah, I like that one. Let's work on that one." If he makes the track in 15 minutes, I'm trying to finish it in 10. That's our thing. We're over there racing.
VH1: Is this your last album?
Jay-Z: It's really a gift, and as long as I feel like I can make an album … I'm so happy with the album I have right now. I don't want to be like the boxer who just took one too many fights.
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