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.