Jay-Z was the guest of honor at the Live at the New York Public Library series last night, and his new memoir, Decoded, was being heralded as highly as Kanye’s new album. Paul Holdengräber, host for the evening’s event along with Dr. Cornel West, called Decoded “one of the most extraordinary books I have read in the last decade. This is a book of a great, major poet. He belongs at the New York Public Library.” Videos and highlights from Hova’s trip to the library below.
We have to admit, listening to Paul Holdengräber read aloud excerpts from Jay’s book in his Belgian accent gives us the giggles.
The reading lasted two hours, and Jay discussed everything from his lyrics, to his friendship to Biggie, to how he got the rights to sample “Hard Knock Life” for his first hit single (via Vulture):
“I told [Annie composer Charles Strouse] that we had an essay [contest] at school and I won the essay and we went to see Annie on Broadway and how it affected my life. The truth is — that last part was true, it did affect my life. My sister Andrea, we call her Annie, so when it came on TV I was immediately drawn to it. I was like, this is about us. This is how we feel. So years later, when I was on tour and Kid Capri had played this instrumental that the 45 King had made, it stopped me in my tracks. I was walking offstage after performing, and he played the song as an intermission before the next act went on, and I heard this sound, with these drums, and I told everybody around me, ‘Wait a minute.’ I went around to the D.J. booth, like, what is that? [45 King] is notoriously hard to find. We found him in Maryland somewhere. I recorded the record.”
You can watch the entire conversation here.