Adam Dodd's Reviews > Decoded

Decoded by Jay-Z
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M 50x66
's review
Jan 03, 2011

really liked it
Read in December, 2010

This is a beautifully presented and introspective autobiography from Jay-Z. Rather than being simply chronological, the author has gone for detailing the key elements of his life so far (he is around 40) through an examination of his lyrics, which are annotated by him, set between anecdotes. As well as being a very rounded and balanced view of his life so far (which is far more humble and grounded than one might expect from a man who will likely be a self-made billionaire before he dies), there is, I think, an attempt at atonement for what he sees as his previous sins, although this is not posited through any self-flaggelation, but is buried slightly beneath the surface. It makes the book an interesting read, as it often feels like an unwitting apologia.
The annotations on the lyrics will feel cometimes patronising to people with a good knowledge of music, but as a white middle-class male I did find the material on the evolution and essence of hip-hop to be genuinely enlightening and has helped to develop my respect for a genre that I had always enjoyed without having fully appreciated it.
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