Jay-Z was a guest on ‘Last Call with Carson Daly’ on Wednesday night to promote his new film ‘Fade To Black’. Jay talked a bit about the situation with R. Kelly and the tour shakeup, who takes the mantle when he retires, the state of hip hop, his feelings on the mix-tapes featuring his work, including ‘The Grey Album’, and more. Read on for a rough transcript.
Carson: We love this guy and we’re doing it tonight. He is one of the
greatest rap artists of all time. He is the cofounder of rockafella, which
now includes the record label, a clothing line, I think some sort of alcohol,
film production company, golf course, who knows. He’s also the star and
the subject of the new film “fade to black.” And he’s know longer the best
of both worlds, but simply the best. Say hi to jay-Z. Jay.
[ Cheers and applause ]
Carson: All right, nice, what’s happening, jay?
Jay-Z: What’s up. Look at you. Lookin’ nice. Can I drink this?
Carson: Drink it. What’s happening? You look good. You look dapper.
Jay-Z: Yeah, I tried to put it together for you. I knew you would have
on a jacket.
Carson: That’s nice. Is this your own line?
Jay-Z: No, no, not yet. I’m on my way though.
Carson: That looks good. Well, let’s just start with — it must be bitter
sweet — you have the number 1 record in the country, the unfinished business
album with R. Kelly. Yet, this whole thing is just over with him.
Jay-Z: Back a ‘da kabokle.
Carson: What happened? I was listening to you —
[ Laughter ] — After the friday night show. If you don’t know this
and you’re watching, there was the concert with jay and R. Kelly and a
guy comes on stage and says that people have a gun in madison square garden,
which I think is just impossible.
Jay-Z: Close to impossible.
Carson: And runs off and there’s whole thing and then you’re on the
radio with angie at hot97 ’til 3:00 in the morning. I’m up, I’m listening,
it’s like a soap opera. You leave, then R. Kelly comes in. He says some
crazy stuff. Where are we with this whole thing?
Jay-Z: Well, you know, out of every negative situation, you know what
I’m saying, positive things happen. So that happened that night and it
so happened that a lot of people were in the audience — usher being one
of them — and, you know, we just put it together. He ran out the audience
— “what you need me to do? What you need me to do?” So we had these laptops,
so we started burning cds right on the spot. Burning down cds for — this
is good, this is good downloading.
Jay-Z: We burnt cd tracks —
Carson: So that usher could get on stage and perform to —
Jay-Z: He got on stage and he performed to — and that was really a
big thing for me. To see him do that, ’cause he’s a superstar in his own
Jay-Z: You know, and he performed with no back music, no anything. He
just grabbed the mike, it sounded just like the record.
Carson: Well, that’s the benefit of going to a jay-z show in new york.
Because your fans are also superstars. And not that you need them ’cause
you have like 8 gazillian hits. You didn’t R. Kelly, right? You didn’t
any of those people. You could have performed.
Jay-Z: Yeah, I just really wanted to give the people more than they
paid for. I wanted to make sure — you know they paid to see two people.
You know what I’m saying.
Jay-Z: Two all-star talents. And I just wanted to make sure they got
more than their money’s worth.
Carson: True or false — the trouble with R. Kelly started at the first
show in chicago, where he’s from, when the crowd was feeling you more than
Jay-Z: I would say that’s very true.
Carson: True or false — okay, let me just keep going.
[ Laughter ] True or false — the allegations that he said there were
some issues with the production and the lighting and that you were quote
“trying to sabotage the show” had a lot to do with the early problem you
had with mr. Kelly?
Jay-Z: I mean, I’m not a lighting guy for one. You know what I’m saying.
And I’m not his daddy.
[ Laughter ] So if he thought like his lights were messed up, he should’ve
got a lighting guy. The whole thing was supposed to be the best of both
worlds. So we had one lighting guy. You know, everything was supposed to
be — you know, you do the best at what you do.
Jay-Z: I do the best at what I do. It wasn’t a competition, at least
in my eyes. Now that everything has come to fruition, I see it was a competition.
Carson: Were you guys cool at one point? Because I know when this thing
started like a year or a year and a half ago he had his own court trouble
and the allegations with the 21 counts of child pornography. You certainly
didn’t have to readdress this best of both worlds issue. Why did you?
Jay-Z: What happened with that first thing was he would think I distanced
myself from him. I really didn’t ’cause I’m not god almighty judge. I’m
not here to judge — who am I to say he can’t? In the beginning, I was
like let’s fall back from this project because real life comes before entertainment.
Jay-Z: You know, you should really take care of your real life situation
because it’s a serious situation that you’re facing.
Jay-Z: So that’s the reason why nothing happened on the first project.
Then when I did this thing for the movie, when we were taping it, he came
to the garden. And then I saw the response from the people. It was so overwhelming
that I was like — you know, right then and there we started talking about
doing the tour.
Jay-Z: You know, this is something the people wanted to see.
Carson: And then you learned he’s crazy?
[ Laughter ] Let me move on so I don’t have you — I got a lot of questions.
But the show goes on with jay-z and like every other great artist, it’s
a far better show in my opinion. Now you don’t have to comment on that.
You’re retired. The black album was jay-z’s last album, however rumors
are flying that shawn carter is in the studiowith dr. Dre.
Jay-Z: Oh, you heard about that one?
[ Laughter ] Well, nah, that’s, you know, rumors at this time.
Carson: Sounds like some friends see, see , see.
Jay-Z: I seen dre and nelly one time and we just talked about how magical
that would be. And I didn’t know how that got spread so far but it really
went a long way.
Carson: So this was true.
Jay-Z: Conversation was four people in the room.
Jay-Z: Maybe five.
Carson: Yeah. Maybe I was the fifth. What happens to your entourage,
the people that are around you, now that you’re retired?
Jay-Z: What do you mean?
Carson: You know, just like the boys that normally travel with you when
you do shows and concertsand radio promotions. And, you know, like now
that you’re retired, are they — do they get any retirement benefits out
[ Laughter ] Like meth and nori? What do they get? Like a time share?
Jay-Z: Oh, oh, nah, they get a lot of freedom off of rockafella records.
They get a bigger marketing budget ’cause I used to eat them up.
Carson: Okay, there you go. That makes sense. In your eyes, where does
the crown of hip hop sort of shift now? And I’ll speak, pretending that
you’re completely retired. In your opinion, where would you like to sort
of pass the torch? Is it kanye west?
Jay-Z: I can’t do that. You know what I’m saying. That’s really for
the people to decide. You know, there’s a lot of great artists out there,
kanye being one of them. Eminem, you know, 50 cent. I mean even the young
guys coming up, they can make a rush for it — jadakiss and fabolous and
those guys. Lloyd banks. Beanie segal, you know, he has a shot.
Carson: Don’t you think hip hop has gotten a little too polished? Do
you miss some of the grimy times of hip hop? Every radio station —
Jay-Z: I like to hear my best, yeah.
[ Laughter ]
Carson: As a fan of music, you know what I mean? Like, every radio station
now has a cool hip hop group and if it’s like a shaquan’s type vibe, you
know. They’re looking for the banger now. Because where protools has gone
and studios, everybody’s gotta have the big club hit. If you don’t set
it off big, you can barely even set it off.
Jay-Z: And that’s really the problem. Because there is so much pressure
from the higher ups, all the way high ups —
Carson: To get one hit.
Jay-Z: — To get the hits right away. Not just hit, you gotta get it
Carson: But what about the song that’s good?
Jay-Z: They don’t deal artists. Before, you were guaranteed three videos.
Now, you’re not even guaranteed a second video. If your first video is
not hitting — I’m talking about new artists. — If your first video isn’t
a hit, there’s no guarantee you’re gonna get a second video.
Carson: Right. But when you were coming up you couldn’t even get a record
deal which was a blessing in disguise. You own your masters. You set your
own fate. You’ve been tremendously successful. Now, what’s the incentive
for a young rap artist to “a” — even want to get a record a record deal,
because the record business is in shambles?
Jay-Z: Right, right.
Carson: And “b” –where do they go, what do they do? Where’s the room
for an underground movement?
Jay-Z: We, absolute, we have to put — well, what it is now is people
— it’s the business of music instead of the music business. You know,
everyone’s putting the business before. Like, we’re not creating artists
any more. You know —
Carson: You’re gonna run like universal or def jam any minute now.
Jay-Z: Yeah, I wanna — that’s my whole thing.
Carson: The whole thing is to create a sub label to help new performers?
Jay-Z: Right. My whole thing is to get in place where I can put the
focus back on artistry.
Carson: Right, right.
Jay-Z: You know, put the music first, the music back in music business.
Jay-Z: You know what I’m saying? ‘Cause it’s needed.
Carson: I know it is. That’s why I’m asking.
Jay-Z: It’s huge. It’s the biggest, you know, it’s the biggest thing
right now used to sell every product that there is, but the artistry is
Carson: And as little as ten years ago that wasn’t the case. And you
know why I ask these questions? Because I care about the streets.
[ Laughter ] We’ll be right back with more jay-z right after this.
[ Cheers and applause ] “Fade to black.” We’ll be right back with more
[ Cheers and applause ]
Carson: All right, there you go. Thank you.
Jay-Z: I want to hear — when you hear a band you feel like, you act
like you can play the drums.
Carson: Right. Well, it’s just the right way of bopping your head. It’s
the same sort of thing.
Jay-Z: Get on the beat.
[ Laughter ] What does that say. I bop my head. That’s pusa thank you
guys. Nice work. I want to — before we talk about “fade to black,” the
film, let me ask you a quick question about the black album. And what it
— it sort of started a whole new wave in the industry. This match up.
Dj dangermouth took the vocals and put it to the beatles’ white album.
Do you consider that flattery or theft?
Jay-Z: That’s flattery to me. I’ll promote any type of creativity. You
know what I’m saying? I mean I put a acapella album out there so I promote
Carson: You encourage artists to take it. Do you here any of them?
Jay-Z: I’ve heard a lot of them. I heard the purple album with all the
prince music. I heard jay-zeezer with weezer in the background. I heard,
of course, the grey album. I heard the latin album.
Carson: Right. You like that. You like them taking your stuff and being
creative with it.
Jay-Z: Yeah, it’s all good, man.
Carson: All right, let me talk to you about “fade to black.” It’s a
documentary. It’s the making of not just the black album, but the concert
at msg. Part of me was like it’s a little weird to see footage of jay in
a huge venue and then I thought about it and I was like this must have
held some historic meaning to him. What did that mean coming from marcy
projects to being on the world’s stage in your own back yard?
Jay-Z: Right. That’s — actually we’re shooting that for a dvd. We shot
it to shoot a dvd. But then when I saw the first 15 minutes of it I was
like, “um, this is way bigger than just a dvd.” This is a journey. This
is a journey from a guy from brooklyn who couldn’t get a deal, you know,
to play the most famous arena in the world. You know what I’m saying? So
that was one of my defining moments.
Carson: Right. I’m gonna show a — we have a — I think a full clip
here. Take a look at jay-z from “fade to black.”
Jay-Z: Yo, we gotta all get all get a picture ’cause I have to really
go. I love ya’ll.
Jay-Z: He got it crazy downstairs. It’s all insane trying to get up
in this joint.
Jay-Z: Gotta get in my zone now. There’ll be no talking. I’m gonna go
in. I’m gonna sing. And I’m gonna envision myself tearin’ this down. That’s
how you do it.
Carson: There you go.
[ Cheers and applause ] I think it’s cool for people to see what happens
behind the scenes.
Jay-Z: Yeah, yeah, you know.
Carson: It’s another layer. You know the radio station contest. They
try and create like the jay-z experience. It’s all —
Jay-Z: Right, right.
Carson: — About reality. So you putting this out really gives people
a good look at what’s —
Jay-Z: And also you get to see the making of the black album for the
most part. You know, it’s cut with that type of footage of me creating
the songs with pharall and timberland and all those guys.
Carson: You wanted to put that album out just so under the radar, right?
You really thought — the black album and not do any video production.
Jay-Z: That was the plan in the beginning. The plan was — that’s why
it’s called the black album. I was gonna put it out no singles, no promotion,
nothing. But you know, as I was doing it, I was like why would I do that.
That’s not how I create music.
Jay-Z: I create music from a feeling. And then not promote it and get
it to the pele, it would be cheating myself and it would be cheating them.
Carson: I think most of your fans know this about you. People watching
might not know this about you. One of the craziest things about you is
just the fact, and it certainly gotta be a gift from god — when jay goes
into the booth to record one of his let’s say 15 records that he’s done,
he never writes down his lyrics which is unheard of. You go into the booth
and that’s on this which is —
Jay-Z: Yeah, you get to see all that.
Carson: You see a guy like rick ruben, who’s made some of the best cds
that we all own —
Carson: Who’s floored that you have that ability. How do you remember?
Do you remember lyrics off reasonable doubt?
Jay-Z: Yeah, I mean ’cause I hear them. Those are easy.
Carson: But when you go in you have the headphones on, the music’s on
and you’re not writing. I’ve seen —
Carson: I was in the studio with wu-tang and all those guys. It’s pages
and pages and pages of lyrics.
Jay-Z: Right. What happened —
Carson: And a lot of weed.
[ Laughter ]
Jay-Z: See, I learned how to play — the whole thing. I was there for
a week. Can’t write down one line ’cause I was like —
Jay-Z: What was that line?
Carson: Exactly. Let’s roll some dice and I’ll get back to you.
Jay-Z: Yeah, when did I write that?
Carson: How do you do that?
Jay-Z: What happened was I used to write so much as a kid. Growing up,
I would write everyday, everyday. I had this green notebook and I would
write so much that when I started getting out, growing up, andi was in
the houses, I would have these ideas and they would come to me. And then
I would look around. I would go in the bodega. That’s the store for people
who don’t —
[ Laughter ]
Carson: That’s where they sell lucy’S.
[ Laughter ]
Jay-Z: Going to the stationary store. And I would get this paper bag
and I would just write them and stuff the lyrics in my pocket. So I would
go home, I would have all these lyrics on paper bags. But then, you know,
as I started standing out more and more — I started memorizing one line
and then two songs. You know, it’s like exercising. You do five pushups
one day. The next day you’ll be able to do ten. And I just started memorizing
Carson: And now in your head you have all those verses, all those lyrics
and they’re just all up there.
Carson: That’s crazy.
Jay-Z: Don’t shake me.
Carson: I’m not, I’m not. I think we’re out of time.
Been so awesome to have you here and to talk.
Jay-Z: That’s it. N: That’s the whole show. We’ll shoot another show.
I got another page of questions for you.
Jay-Z: All right.
Carson: But you know how I feel about you. Not only your talent, and
more importantly, you’re just an incredible friend.
Jay-Z: Thank you.
Carson: Thanks so much for being here.
[ Cheers and applause ] Jay-z, everybody.