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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Jay-Z gives writing a whirl, grounds rap”

    Jay-Z gives writing a whirl, grounds rap

    It’s safe to say Jay-Z isn’t the type of guy you’d necessarily bring home to meet your parents, yet his book “”Decoded”” would easily find a place as your mom’s newest coffee table addition. The book is not a tell-all memoir, but rather a thematically organized compilation of Jay-Z’s lyrics.

    Flipping through the 300-plus pages is like experiencing a strategically organized collage of words and magazine cutouts, as opposed to reading a typical black-and-white, 12-point font, Times New Roman autobiography. The varying font sizes make statements like, “”Rappers are young black men telling stories that the police, among others, don’t want to hear,”” leap from the page. Sketches of Al Pacino as Tony Montana are found pages away from photographs of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, drawing readers in and making them wonder how these cultural icons have affected Jay-Z’s music.

    The fact that this is a printed collection of Jay-Z’s lyrics is a contribution to printed media in itself. The rapper is known for not writing down his lyrics, and has referred to himself as ””the only rapper to rewrite history without a pen,”” making “”Decoded”” a marketing scheme gone right. The book functions as an oversized brochure, showcasing Jay-Z’s music in a way that makes you want to listen (or relisten) to his albums now that you have a better understanding of the inspiration behind them.

    By unraveling the content of his music, Jay-Z delves into not only the development of his career, but also into political and social issues relevant to his life and the historical moments that have influenced his work. Even though the book appears to be a glimpse into Jay-Z’s lyrics, it’s more successful at reminding us that hip-hop is an art form. Jay-Z discusses issues of social and racial injustice to remind readers that there is more to rap than comparing asses to Laffy Taffy.

    All this between the gilded covers of a book that’s as likely to find itself on your mom’s coffee table as on Jay-Z’s long list of artistic endeavors.

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