Rapper and music mogul Jay-Z has opened up about marital difficulties, being in therapy, realizing his mother was gay and other personal issues in a wide-ranging interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times.
Alluding to strains in his marriage to pop star Beyoncé, which informed her 2016 album “Lemonade” and his own “4:44,” released this year, Jay-Z said, “We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together” with consideration toward recording an album together.
“And then the music she was making at that time was further along,” he went on to say in the interview for the Times’ T magazine, conducted in September and posted online Wednesday. “So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music,” he revealed.
Of the albums’ well-documented autobiographical elements, Jay-Z said, “The best place is right in the middle of the pain. . . . And that’s where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released.”
In his most direct allusion to their martial issues, the 47-year-old Grammy winner added that, “You know, most people walk away, and, like, [the] divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself. . . . So, you know, most people don’t want to do that. You don’t want to look inside yourself. . . . And so you walk away.”
Without specifying a time frame, Jay-Z told Baquet, 61, that he had found a therapist “through great friends of mine . . . who’ve been through a lot and, you know, come out on the other side as, like, whole individuals.” He said, “I grew so much from the experience. But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. . . . You know, you realize that if someone’s racist toward you, it ain’t about you. It’s about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point.”
He also addressed his mother, Gloria Carter, being gay, as he recounted in his song “Smile” and the lyrics, “Momma had four kids, but she’s a lesbian.”
“We never spoke about it,” he said, after having learned of it in his teens. “We — it just exist. It was there. Everyone knew. . . . But we never spoke about it. Until, like, recently, now we start having these beautiful conversations, and just really getting to know each other. We were always good friends but now we’re really great friends. You know. And we were just talking as friends. And then she was sharing that she was in love. She can be herself [now]. She doesn’t have to hide for her kids or feel like she’s embarrassing her kids. It was a much different time then. [Now] she can just live her full life, her whole life, and be her.”