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JAY-Z Opens Up About Infidelity: "The Strongest Thing A Man Could Do Is Cry"

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He couldn't see tears falling down his eyes, so he had to make this album cry. Jay Z and Beyonce are undeniably music industry royalty, reigning supreme in business, music, and love. Together for nearly twenty years, the Brooklyn rapper with a penchant for the thick like honey Houston native have held it down from the "03 Bonnie & Clyde" all the way to 2017 "Shining."


But everything sweet ain't sugar, and all that glitters isn't gold.

With the release of Jay-Z's 4:44 album, which is arguably some of the best work of his career, many viewed it as validation to the skepticism surrounding the meaning behind the force of an album that was his wife's 2016 release of Lemonade. Jay-Z has been more honest than ever in his music and it's a characteristic that lends itself to his interviews time and time again. Case in point, his recent interview with T Magazine. In addition to his incredible career, Hov spoke about therapy, infidelity, and the calmness at the center of a storm.

When asked about his vulnerable track "Song Cry" when he rapped about the possibility of his marriage falling apart and the pain of seeing another man playing with his child, he revealed:

"The strongest thing a man can do is cry. To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That's real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That's not real. It's fake."

Jay also broached the subject of mental health, particularly his decision to seek out therapy and the awareness that he developed from realizing how connected emotions are to everything.

"I grew so much from the experience. But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. And just being aware of it. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such a ... you're at such an advantage. You know, you realize that if someone's racist toward you, it ain't about you. It's about their upbringing and what happened to them, and how that led them to this point. You know, most bullies bully. It just happen. Oh, you got bullied as a kid so you trying to bully me. I understand."And once I understand that, instead of reacting to that with anger, I can provide a softer landing and maybe, 'Aw, man, is you O.K.?' I was just saying there was a lot of fights in our neighborhood that started with 'What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?' And then you realize: 'Oh, you think I see you. You're in this space where you're hurting, and you think I see you, so you don't want me to look at you. And you don't want me to see you.'"

It was there he also realized how damaging men being in pain but not knowing it or understanding it can be.

"You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode what happen? You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect."… In my case, like it's, it's deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity..."

Although some believe that the couple's painful but beautifully transparent albums stemmed from conversations, Jay revealed Lemonade and 4:44 were conceived in an organic way, from a place of healing after pain. And in some ways, music became its own version of therapy for the couple.

“…It happened – we were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together. And then the music she was making at the time was further along. So, her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, 'I'm making this album.' I was right there the entire time."

He also admitted how “uncomfortable" but necessary it was to be there and immerse themselves in one another's work. They were truths that had to be told so that they could be free.

“…The best place in the, you know, hurricane is like in the middle of it.“We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane… But the place is right in the middle of the pain. And that's where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another's craft. I think she's amazing."

Jay also provided some insight into why divorce wasn't an option for him, even with his past afflictions. He knew he caused Beyoncé insurmountable pain, but what was most important was the fact that he was also willing to correct his mistakes and undo the damage he had done.

“You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something 'cause most people can't see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone's face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself. “So, you know, most people don't want to do that. You don't want to look inside yourself. And so, you walk away."

The first step is being honest with yourself. The second step is knowing that there is strength in the parts of you that the world tries to deem weak.

Watch Jay's 35-minute interview with T Magazine in full below, or click here.

We all know what it is to love, be loved, or be in love – or at least we think we do. But what would you say if I were to tell you that so much of the love that you thought you’d been in was actually a little thing called limerence? No, it doesn’t sound as romantic – and it’s not – unless you’re into the whole Obsessed-type of love. But one might say at least one side of that dynamic might be…thrilling.

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

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