Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter opens up to film critic Elvis Mitchell in the February 2010 issue of Interview magazine, on newsstands January 26. In between sips of Snapple (who knew?), Jay discusses the dark side of Eminem’s fame, hanging with presidents, and the passion of the “extraordinary” Kanye West. Check out a few excerpts below.
On the burden of Eminem’s fame: “I never even told him this, but I remember that Eminem came into the studio when we made ‘Moment of Clarity,’ which he produced, on The Black Album. So here’s Eminem. It’s 2003, I think The Eminem Show had come out, and he was like the biggest rapper in the world—he sold like 20 million records worldwide or some ridiculous number. But when he came to the studio, I remember I hugged him, and I could feel that he had on a bulletproof vest. I couldn’t imagine being that successful. I mean, he’s a guy who loves rap and wanted to be successful his whole career. Then he finally gets it, and there’s this dark cloud over him.”
On meeting Obama and Clinton: “It’s unbelievable because it’s so far away from where I come from. We were the kids who were ignored by every politician. We didn’t have the numbers, the vote, to put anybody in office, because no matter who was in the office, we didn’t think that it would affect change where we lived. So nobody went out and voted. For me, being with Obama or having dinner with Bill Clinton… It’s crazy. It’s mind-blowing, because where I come from is just another world. We were just ignored by politicians—by America in general.”
On his relationship with Kanye West: “Well, he’s really more of a peer now. You know, before, he was more a new guy trying to get on—a fan of the music that I’ve made and my lifestyle—so things were a little different. But he’s an extraordinary person. He has these ideas and these things that he wants to do and places he wants to go, and he’s really passionate about them. He’s very sincere.”
On the VMA debacle: “I just think the timing of what [Kanye] did was wrong, and that, of course, overshadowed everything. He believed that ‘Single Ladies’ [by Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé] was a better video. I believed that. I think a lot of people believed that. You can’t give someone Video of the Year if they don’t win Best Female Video. I thought Best Female Video was something you won on the way to Video of the Year. But, hey, I guess it wasn’t—and that’s a whole other conversation about awards shows and artists.”
On award shows: “You can’t have the woman who wins Video of the Year not win Best Female Video. I mean, Herbie Hancock is great, but you can’t have him beat the Kanye album that year. I mean, come on, seriously. That can’t happen. That just lets me know that the people who get to pick these ballots just check the only name they know. I think that’s what’s happening with rap music now.”
Read the rest of the story here.