Review: DeCoded – Jay Z

I can’t tell you the last time I went to HMV and picked up a CD of Jay Z’s, he’s not really my cup of tea. However, when I go to a club and a Jay Z song comes on, I’ve been known to get into the track and somehow miraculously know the words (thank you Z103.5). Even though I’ve heard his music for years and years, I can’t really sit here and pretend I understand where he’s coming from when it comes to songs about “hustling”, but I do respect an artistic form of writing. Typically I’ve never taken the time to sit down and dissect his lyrics to understand where he’s coming from, but that’s why it’s was such a treat to be able to enter Jay Z’s world in his first book, “DeCoded”.

It’s filled with Jay Z’s experiences growing up. He didn’t realize he was poor until his Grade six teacher took his class on a tour to her home and it was there that he realized that sharing a tiny apartment with his Mother and brother wasn’t the norm. His goal from an early age was to make money. It didn’t matter how he got it, all that was important was that he made a profit. Sitting in class wasn’t as exciting as making quick money. While out on the streets hustling, Jay Z got into the world of rapping. He was fascinated with the way people could take an ordinary object and rap about it for a whole song. So he and his friends grew up rapping with one another. He describes rap as a different form as expression, because it was raw and expressive. Many were impressed with him at a young age, so as he grew older, he continued to pursue this career.

Always money driven, he got involved in the business, only planning on making one album and then venturing over to the production side of things, but he began to earn some credibility and people really enjoyed his artistic point of view, so he continued to rap and now has some of the most successful rap albums of our time.

Throughout the novel, there were lyrics to some of his most popular music in which he footnotes different parts of the song to give you, the reader/listener an inside view into what he is really trying to say. It was interesting to see where he went in a song and how he got there. The most important thing (I think) that Jay Z is trying to portray in this book is that fact that he shouldn’t just be classified as a rapper or a businessman, but also as a poet.

The novel is not only great content discussing his road to fame and how songs are created, but it’s also a beautiful book filled with images of beautiful scenes of his hometown of New York. It’s no secret that Jay Z is a talented artist with a great business sense, so I expected no less when I read his eye catching first novel.  Oprah even named it as one of her favorite things this year, which was cool, because it’s likely the only thing I could ever afford out of all Oprah’s “favorite things”.

It’s a great read and it’s definitely coffee book material because of its captivating shots of New York City. Not only is it recommended by the outstanding Oprah, but it’s also highly recommended by yours truly.  

As an added bonus, I’ve included my favorite Jay Z song and a song that is explaned in his book, it has a great back story!


3 thoughts on “Review: DeCoded – Jay Z

  1. Kathleen says:

    Sounds like a good book. My son is a huge Jay Z fan and I am thinking this would be a great stocking stuff item for him…even though it won’t fit in the stocking!

  2. Lionel says:

    Got the book from my wife-halfway through it already & i’ve learnt so much-not only about life but about the man himself! Amazing book by one of the greatest rappers between the lines & you’ll soon become a fan of a man that is a real shooting star since December 4th!!

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