Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jay-Z Quotes

1. I'm a mirror. If you're cool with me, I'm cool with you, and the exchange starts. What you see is what you reflect. If you don't like what you see, then you've done something. If I'm standoffish, that's because you are.






2. Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don't think it's given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I'm going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations.


3. I've never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I've always wanted to stay true to myself, and I've managed to do that. People have to accept that.


4. I'm far from being god, but I work god damn hard.

5. Racism is taught in the home. We agree on that? Well, it's very hard to teach racism to a teenager who's listening to rap music and who idolizes, say, Snoop Dogg. It's hard to say: "That guy is less than you." The kid is like: "I like that guy, he's cool. How is he less than me?"


6. I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.

7. I'm hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That's what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that's from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.




8. It was a weird mix of emotions. One day, your best friend could be killed. The day before, you could be celebrating him getting a brand-new bike.


9. My thing is related to who I am as a person. The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I'm feeling at the time, whatever direction I'm heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.

10. That's why this generation is the least racist generation ever. You see it all the time. Go to any club. People are intermingling, hanging out, having fun, enjoying the same music. Hip-hop is not just in the Bronx anymore. It's worldwide. Everywhere you go, people are listening to hip-hop and partying together. Hip-hop has done that.

11. As kids we didn't complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it.


12. Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don't even have to like your music. If you're big enough, people are drawn to you.

13. I think relationships are broken up because of the media.

14. It's hilarious a lot of times. You have a conversation with someone, and he's like: "You speak so well!" I'm like: "What do you mean? Do you understand that's an insult?"


15. One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That's the American ideal. Poor people don't like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don't like to think of themselves as poor.

16. The burden of poverty isn't just that you don't always have the things you need, it's the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you'd do anything to lift that burden.



17. By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn't need pen or paper - my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape.

18. Growing up, politics never trickled down to the areas we come from. But people from Obama's camp, and Obama himself, reached out to me and asked for my help on the campaign. We've sat and had dinner, and we've spoken on the phone. He's a very sharp guy. Very charming. Very cool.


19. I collect art, and I drink wine…things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said: "I'm going to buy art to impress this crowd." That's just ridiculous to me. I don't live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?

20. I grew up in Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, and my mom and pop had an extensive record collection, so Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and all of those sounds and souls of Motown filled the house.


21. I have inherited two of the most important brands in hip-hop, Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. Reid and Universal Music Group have given me the opportunity to manage the companies I have contributed to my whole career. I feel this is a giant step for me and the entire artist community.




22. I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice - anything just to get a paper bag. And I'd write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook.


23. It was a very intense and stressful situation. There was playing in the Johnny-pump (an opened fire hydrant) and the ice-cream man coming around and all of these games that we'd play, and suddenly it would turn just violent and there would be shootings at 12 in the afternoon on any given day.

24. My brands are an extension of me. They're close to me. It's not like running GM, where there's no emotional attachment.


25. The average rap life is two or three albums. You're lucky to get to your second album in rap!






26. They say a midget standing on a giant's shoulders can see much further than the giant. So I got the whole rap world on my shoulders, they trying to see further than I am.


27. When the TV version of Annie came on, I was drawn to it. It was the struggle of this poor kid in this environment and how her life changed. It immediately resonated.



28. Wherever I go, I bring the culture with me, so that they can understand that it's attainable. I didn't do it any other way than through hip-hop.


29. You make your first album, you make some money, and you feel like you still have to show face, like: "I still go to the projects." I'm like, why? Your job is to inspire people from your neighborhood to get out. You grew up there. What makes you think it's so cool?

30. I'm not a businessman, I'm a business… man.


31. One million, two million, three million, four, In just five years, forty million more, you are now lookin at the forty million boy, I'm rapin Def Jam 'til I'm the hundred million man.

32. I'd rather die enormous than live dormant.

33. I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, I'll sell water to a well.

34. Everything evens up, you just wait, Even a garbage can gets a steak, You ain't even a garbage can, you have faith!


35. I will not lose, for even in defeat, there's a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me.

36. Ain't nothin' wrong with the aim, just gotta change the target.

37. Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself.

38. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of not trying.

39. I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over.


40. Only God can judge me so I'm gone, either love me or leave me alone.



41. Jealousy's a weak emotion.



42. We change people through conversation, not through censorship.

43. A poet's mission is to make words do more work than they normally do, to make them work on more than one level.


44. Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.


45. Kurt Cobain OD'd on heroin before committing suicide, but he also OD'd on fame. Cobain was like Basquiat: They both wanted to be famous, and were brilliant enough to make it happen. But then what? Drug addicts kill themselves trying to get that feeling they got from their first high, looking for an experience they'll never get again. In his suicide note, Cobain asked himself: "Why don't you just enjoy it?" and then answered: "I don't know!" It's amazing how much of a mindf... success can be.

46. The art of rap is deceptive. It seems so straightforward and personal and real that people read it completely literally, as raw testimony or autobiography. And sometimes the words we use, nigga, bitch, m... , and the violence of the images overwhelms some listeners. It's all white noise to them till they hear a bitch or a nigga and then they run off yelling: "See!" and feel vindicated in their narrow conception of what the music is about.

47. Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.


48. This is why we shouldn't be afraid. There are two possibilities: One is that there's more to life than the physical life, that our souls "will find an even higher place to dwell" when this life is over. If that's true, there's no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that's true, then we have to really live it - we have to take it for everything it has and "die enormous" instead of "living dormant," as I said way back on "Can I Live." Either way, fear is a waste of time.

49. Life is for living, not living uptight, see ya somewhere up in the sky.





50. If the beat is time, flow is what we do with that time, how we live through it. The beat is everywhere, but every life has to find its own flow.

51. You know the type: loud as a motorbike but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight.


52. I couldn't even think about wanting to be something else; I wouldn't let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn't stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane.


53. Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly.

54. (T)he truth is you don't need some external demon to take control of you to turn you into a raging, money-obsessed sociopath, you only need to let loose the demons you already have inside of you.


55. Hip-hop has always been controversial, and for good reason. When you watch a children's show and they've got a muppet rapping about the alphabet, it's cool, but it's not really hip-hop. The music is meant to be provocative - which doesn't mean it's necessarily obnoxious, but it is (mostly) confrontational, and more than that, it's dense with multiple meanings. Great rap should have all kinds of unresolved layers that you don't necessarily figure out the first time you listen to it. Instead it plants dissonance in your head. You can enjoy a song that knocks in the club or has witty punch lines the first time you hear it. But great rap retains mystery. It leaves shit rattling around in your head that won't make sense till the fifth or sixth time through. It challenges you. Which is the other reason hip-hop is controversial: People don't bother trying to get it. The problem isn't in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don't even know how to listen to the music.

56. Hip-hop is a perfect mix between poetry and boxing.


57. Boxing is a glorious sport to watch and boxers are incredible, heroic athletes, but it's also, to be honest, a stupid game to play. Even the winners can end up with crippling brain damage. In a lot of ways, hustling is the same. But you learn something special from playing the most difficult games, the games where winning is close to impossible and losing is catastrophic: You learn how to compete as if your life depended on it. That's the lesson I brought with me to the so-called "legitimate" world.

58. Everyone needs a chance to evolve.


59. (T)he truth is that drug addicts have a disease. It only takes a short time in the streets to realize that out-of-control addiction is a medical problem, not a form of recreational or criminal behavior. And the more society treats drug addiction as a crime, the more money drug dealers will make "relieving" the suffering of the addicts.


60. Oprah, for instance, still can't get past the n-word issue (or the nigga issue, with all apologies to Ms. Winfrey). I can respect her position. To her, it's a matter of acknowledging the deep and painful history of the word. To me, it's just a word, a word whose power is owned by the user and his or her intention. People give words power, so banning a word is futile, really. "Nigga" becomes "porch monkey" becomes "coon" and so on if that's what in a person's heart. The key is to change the person. And we change people through conversation, not through censorship.


61. Rappers, as a class, are not engaged in anything criminal. They're musicians. Some rappers and friends of rappers commit crimes. Some bus drivers commit crimes. Some accountants commit crimes. But there aren't task forces devoted to bus drivers or accountants. Bus drivers don't have to work under the preemptive suspicion of law enforcement. The difference is obvious, of course: Rappers are young black men telling stories that the police, among others, don't want to hear. Rappers tend to come from places where police are accustomed to treating everybody like a suspect. The general style of rappers is offensive to a lot of people. But being offensive is not a crime, at least not one that's on the books. The fact that law enforcement treats rap like organized crime tells you a lot about just how deeply rap offends some people - they'd love for rap itself to be a crime, but until they get that law passed, they come after us however they can.

62. But that's a good match for the way I've always approached life. I've always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched. My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement, or worse, stagnation. It's allowed me to stay open to the next thing without feeling held back by a preconceived notion of what I'm supposed to be doing next. Stories have ups and downs and moments of development followed by moments of climax; the storyteller has to keep it all together, which is an incredible skill. But poetry is all climax, every word and line pops with the same energy as the whole; even the spaces between the words can feel charged with potential energy. It fits my style to rhyme with high stakes riding on every word and to fill every pause with pressure and possibility. And maybe I just have ADD, but I also like my rhymes to stay loose enough to follow whatever ideas hijack my train of thought, just like I like my mind to stay loose enough to absorb everything around me.

63. Lyor Cohen, who I consider my mentor, once told me something that he was told by a rabbi about the eight degrees of giving in Judaism. The seventh degree is giving anonymously, so you don't know who you're giving to, and the person on the receiving end doesn't know who gave. The value of that is that the person receiving doesn't have to feel some kind of obligation to the giver and the person giving isn't doing it with an ulterior motive. It's a way of putting the giver and receiver on the same level. It's a tough ideal to reach out for, but it does take away some of the patronizing and showboating that can go on with philanthropy in a capitalist system. The highest level of giving, the eight, is giving in a way that makes the receiver self-sufficient.

64. May the best of your today's be the worst of your tomorrow's.


65. But this is one of the things that makes rap at its best so human. It doesn't force you to pretend to be only one thing or another, to be a saint or a sinner. It recognizes that you can be true to yourself and still have unexpected dimensions and opposing ideas. Having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other is the most common thing in the world. The real bullshit is when you act like you don't have contradictions inside you, that you're so dull and unimaginative that your mind never changes or wanders into strange, unexpected places.

66. You can put a new shirt on your back, slide a fresh chain around your neck, and accumulate all the money and power in the world, but at the end of the day those are just layers. Money and power don't change you, they just further expose your true self.


67. Housing projects are a great metaphor for the government's relationship to poor folks: these huge islands built mostly in the middle of nowhere, designed to warehouse lives. People are still people, though, so we turned the projects into real communities, poor or not. We played in fire hydrants and had cookouts and partied, music bouncing off concrete walls. But even when we could shake off the full weight of those imposing buildings and try to just live, the truth of our lives and struggle was still invisible to the larger country. The rest of the country was freed of any obligation to claim us. Which was fine, because we weren't really claiming them, either.

68. I wrote this (Most Kings) before MJ died, and his death only proves my point: When he was alive, the King of Pop, people were tireless in taking him down, accepting as truth every accusation people made against him, assuming the worst until they drove him away. When he died, suddenly he was beloved again - people realized that the charges against him might really have been bogus, and that the skin lightening was really caused by a disease, and that his weirdness was part of his artistry. But when he was alive and on top, they couldn't wait to bring him down.

69. Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn't require either race to lose anything; everyone gained.

70. You could name practically any problem in the hood and there'd be a rap song for you.


71. My life after childhood has two main stories: the story of the hustler and the story of the rapper, and the two overlap as much as they diverge. I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen years old. People sometimes say that now I'm so far away from that life - now that I've got businesses and Grammys and magazine covers - that I have no right to rap about it. But how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be? The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand. It was life during wartime.

72. On the night he died - he was twenty-seven - Basquiat had been planning to see a Run-DMC show. When people asked him what his art was about, he'd hit them with the same three words: "Royalty, heroism, and the streets."


73. It's always been most important for me to figure out "my space" rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself - and that's essential for any artist, I think.



74. New York has a thousand universes in it that don't always connect but we do all walk the same streets, hear the same sirens, ride the same subways, see the same headlines in the Post, read the same writings on the walls. That shared landscape gets inside of all of us and, in some small way, unites us, makes us think we know each other even when we don't.


75. Electing a black man named Barack Obama President in the same country that elected George W. Bush - twice! - is as far-fetched as a hustler from Marcy performing at that President's inauguration. But it happened.




76. We give violent movies a pass but come down hard on a rapper like Scarface, who is ultimately a storyteller just like Brian de Palma. And neither of them is responsible for the poverty and violence that really do shape people's lives - not to mention their individual choices.


77. When you step outside of school and have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I've never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it in my rhymes. My mind is always jumping around, restless, making connections, mixing and matching ideas, rather than marching in a straight line. That's why I'm always stressing focus. My thoughts chase each other from room to room in my head if I let them, so sometimes I have to slow myself down.

78. When it comes to signing up new talent, that's what I'm looking for - not just someone who has the skill, but someone built for this life. Someone who has the work ethic, the drive. The gift that Jordan had wasn't just that he was willing to do the work, but he loved doing it, because he could feel himself getting stronger, ready for anything. He left the game and came back and worked just as hard as he did when he started. He came into the game as Rookie of the Year, and he finished the last playoff game of his career with a shot that won the Bulls their sixth championship. That's the kind of consistency that you can only get by adding dead-serious discipline to whatever talent you have.

79. This is black superhero music right here, baby!

80. I'm stuck in this life forever. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Who am I to change the game?

81. It's the dream team, meets the Supreme Team and all our eyes green it only means one thing. You ain't f... with my clique.



What do you think of Jay-Z quotes?



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