“We’d play music in the house, we’d clean up the house. The house would smell like Pinesol. Windows open, drapes blowing, music playing. I was just enjoying the sounds — Prince, Michael Jackson, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder. I think my mom may have had the first rap record ever, [by] King James III.”
-Rap legend Jay-Z, discussing his early exposure to music during an interview with Charlie Rose. Jay (born Shawn Carter) grew up in the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which was not a place where most people made music careers.
“The people I was with daily — a personal friend of mine went to jail for 12 years,” Jay explained to Rose on an episode of the interviewer’s show that aired on Wednesday night (December 8th). “And me and him would be together every single day. So I know that same fate was awaiting me. We would have got picked up the same day. If I wasn’t pursuing music I would have been in jail for 12 years.”
The conversation was taped at the Brooklyn Museum on the occasion of the release of Jay-Z’s new book “Decoded,” a heavy autobiographical tome that sees Jay dig deep into his own lyrics and color his own narrative using his music. One of those stories — about Jigga’s absent father leaving behind his records — came up during the Rose conversation. When the host suggested that at least his father left him some quality music, Jay corrected him. “He didn’t leave it to me, no,” Jay said. “There was never that conversation. I think it went like, ‘Get out and leave the records.’ I can’t say for sure. I wasn’t there.”