Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Decoded' by Jay-Z - My Experience

     Walking down the street to a non-specific destination.  Taking the BART train back and forth between final stops.  Hiding in the storage closet during down time in the office.  I found myself creating several respites during my consumption of Jay-Z' memoirs: "Decoded".  I could not take my nose from its pages.
     I was blown away to find his slick delivery translating perfectly into print; each line, each story, went down smooth.  Instead of a rags-to-riches tale accented with juicy details about Beyoncé, Jay-Z presents a fresh and insightful perspective.  He thoughtfully connects points between big business & small-time hustling, art & rap and fatherless black boys & the heart of humanity.  Again, I had to check the cover several times to make sure I still reading the words of Shawn Carter!

There is a particular quote
that have been bouncing back and forth in my mind:

"Great rap should have all kinds of unresolved layers
that you don’t necessarily figure out the first time you listen to it.
Instead it plants dissonance in your head."

     When I read this, I let out a loud moan; a moan you would expect to hear at church when the pastor makes a great point.  Replacing the word 'rap' with 'art', I agree, what makes great art great is the cognitive dissonance that it invokes.  Art should stimulate and challenge, wires should be crossed in the mind of the audience.  Furthermore, great art isn't bite-sized, but mulled over and chewed upon for lifetimes.
     "Decoded" also features segments where Jay-Z elaborates on his own lyrics.  Taking a song, like my personal favorite, "Meet The Parents", he interjects his thoughts line for line.  He explains the art of stacking rhymes, the multiple meanings behind his metaphors and related personal stories.  I had a great time listening to the song while reading his commentary.  The dynamic of adding audio to the experience of reading literature excites me!
     I am now very impressed by Mr. Carter.  More than a self-made millionaire and a master lyricist, he has thoughts that wander and imagination that goes wild.  I awakened to the truth that crack dealers were once small children in the arms of their mothers...  Timeless poetry can be conceived on a brown paper bag...  A book can still be interesting without sexy references to Beyoncé Knowles.

Check it out for yourself
and tell me what you think:


The Hits Collection, Vol. 1