Laurel Beth's Reviews > Decoded

Decoded by Jay-Z
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's review
Mar 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: from-the-library, rpl
Read from March 15 to 20, 2011

Jay-Z is my favorite rapper for a reason. That reason is not just the words "We used to use umbrellas to change the weather / Now we travel first class to change the forecast." It's not just that in Allure he alludes to "All the Laurels in the world / I feel your pain." As Hov himself'd say, he can spit over any beat.

But he knows the power of the music, of the words, of the memories and the self-reliance and the heartache and the buying your nephew a car just to have him die in it.

When Jay mentions that that tiny horn sample from Curtis & The Impressions' Man oh Man (I want to go back) in Jeezy's Go Crazy telegraphs just as much about the struggle as the words in the song, you know I know exactly what it means. And you know it too.

The best part about this book to me is that it reconfirms to me that after listening to Jay-Z for fifteen years, I do know what he's talking about. I get the verbiage, I know the references. I know Beware Of The Boys is telling me to be antagonistic to those who thought the war in Iraq was justified, not just because of the Bhangra music (which Americans may hear and think "Oh, this some Middle Eastern shit," and not know its Punjabi), but because Jay's there, guiding me through it.

I knew Lucifer wasn't proof that Hov worships the Baphomet, but that Kanye is just really good at speeding up dub samples ever so slightly. But I'm glad he mentioned it, like, "Hey just so you know, despite what 4 hour YouTube conspiracy videos claim, I am not actually an Illuminati Satanist."

I know that everyone gave him shit for that Coldplay collabo in which Hov actually sings a hook that says "Life is but a beach chair" I know we should probably refuse to acknowledge it. But Jay tries to let us know it does mean something, explaining away the haters, without resorting to saying, "I'm so rich, only Gwyneth Paltrow's husband understands me."

Jruss asked me, after reading parts of the book, "You think Jay-Z loves David Foster Wallace?" Cuz, like, footnotes boo.

My sister got this book for Xmas, even though we'd both asked for it. Does Hov ever rap about the Hollys of the world? No, but he feels yr pain too.
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