Amy's Reviews > Decoded

Decoded by Jay-Z
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Jun 15, 2011

really liked it
Read from March 20 to 22, 2011

This was a very interesting look into a culture that I had no experience in. While I am not a follower of Jay-Z's music, I thought it would be interesting to see what shaped him as an artist and what makes him tick. This was a very interesting piece of work in of itself. It seemed to be organized by theme rather than time, while still managing to bounce around. It was written less like a memoir and more like a conversation. The premise of the book is that Jay-Z is "decoding" his lyrics, this part was lost on me because I wasn't familiar with the songs. However, I could relate to the emotions and hardship he shared about his live at those junctures.

This book did surprise me on what it left out. Jay-Z mentions that a large part of the MC life is to brag about yourself, not in a proud/egotistical way, but as proof of your talent. There is very little in the book about his successes in the business world, stardom and general fame. Nor is there a mention of his wife, Beyonce. There were some definite holes, and I'm sure that this was deliberate. It seems that Jay-Z's music comes from his pain and very intense emotions and maybe he hasn't begun to process this new CEO lifestyle into music yet.

Overall, this was an interesting read. I knew enough about the rap/hip-hop/r&b world to recognize some names and important milestones. A general knowledge of the thug life/scene will help, but this book can stand alone as an interesting look into a whole different side of American culture that I had no experience with.
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