June Ambrose, stylist to the stars, did it once again, with hip hop mogul Jay Z on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Jay opens up in this interview about pursuing Beyonce in 2001, his daughter Blue Ivy loving his music, selling crack, being a businessman, and still being in the rap game at 43 years old.
Here are some excerpts:
On Blue Ivy Liking Jay Z’s Music More Than Beyonce
That’s not true. She does like her mother’s music—she watches [Beyoncé’s concerts] on the computer every night. But my album came out and I don’t know if Blue ever heard any of my music prior to this album—she’s only 18 months old and I don’t play my music around the house. But this album was new, so we played it. And she loves all the songs. She plays a song and she goes, ‘More, Daddy, more . . . Daddy song.’ She’s my biggest fan. If no one bought the Magna Carta [album], the fact that she loves it so much, it gives me the greatest joy. And that’s not like a cliché. I’m really serious. Just to see her—‘Daddy song, more, Daddy.’ She’s genuine, she’s honest, because she doesn’t know it makes me happy. She just wants to hear it.
On Barack Obama Being Elected President
It was like, Oh, wow, man, this whole thing about land of the free, home of the . . . it’s, like, real—it’s going to happen, everyone’s getting to participate in it. But growing up, if you had ever told a black person from the hood you can be president, they’d be like, I could never . . . If you had told me that as a kid, I’d be like, Are you out of your mind? How?”
On His Mother Knowing About His Drug Dealing Days As A Teen
We never really had those conversations. We just pretty much ignored it. But she knew. All the mothers knew. It sounds like ‘How could you let your son . . . ’ but I’m telling you, it was normal.”
On Being A Sports Agent
I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he tells Robinson. “To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.
On His Childhood
We were living in a tough situation, but my mother managed; she juggled. Sometimes we’d pay the light bill, sometimes we paid the phone, sometimes the gas went off. We weren’t starving—we were eating, we were O.K. But it was things like you didn’t want to be embarrassed when you went to school; you didn’t want to have dirty sneakers or wear the same clothes over again.
On The Crack Movement Back In The Day
Crack was everywhere—it was inescapable. There wasn’t any place you could go for isolation or a break. You go in the hallway; [there are] crackheads in the hallway. You look out in the puddles on the curbs—crack vials are littered in the side of the curbs. You could smell it in the hallways, that putrid smell; I can’t explain it, but it’s still in my mind when I think about it.
On Ever Feeling Guilty For Selling Crack
Not until later, when I realized the effects on the community. I started looking at the community on the whole, but in the beginning, no. I was thinking about surviving. I was thinking about improving my situation. I was thinking about buying clothes.
On Pursuing Beyonce Back In 2001
Jay says that when he and Beyoncé were both featured on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 2001 Music Issue “we were just beginning to try to date each other.” Try? “Well, you know, you’ve got to try first. You got to dazzle . . . wine and dine.” He tells Robinson that “of course” he pursued Beyoncé, and when asked if he hadn’t been Jay Z—say, he had been a gas-station attendant and she pulled up—would he have been able to date her, he responds, “If I’m as cool as I am, yes. But she’s a charming Southern girl, you know, she’s not impressed. . . . But I would have definitely had to be this cool.” Jay confirms that the line on his latest album, “She was a good girl ’til she knew me” is about Beyoncé, and when Robinson asks if she’s not a good girl anymore, Jay laughs, saying, “Nah. She’s gangsta now.”
On Still Being In The Rap Game
“I know I said I wouldn’t be doing it when I was 30,” he tells Robinson, “so that’s how I know I love it. Thirty years old was my cutoff, but I’m still here, 43 years old.”
For more on Jay Z’s Vanity Fair interview go here.