Sunday, May 19, 2013

Decoded needs to be decoded!

Decoded by Jay-Z starts off a bit stale and for a while promises to not get better!

Thank you to this site for the image!

But I’m a sucker for punishment and once I've started a book, I will finish it. I’m that cat curiosity killed.

The book aesthetically looks amazing; it makes use of glossy paper, has beautiful art work on the cover in eye seducing black and gold (the one I bought. It's also available in a nasty white and gold). The photographs inside are hypnotic and used well.

Okay back to why we buy books; to read. To really enjoy this book, you have to like Jay-Z’s music! As in; be that fan that started with him at the beginning. 

If you are a new fan, you must educate yourself on his old music. To really enjoy this book, you shouldn’t be interested in Jay-Z the business man and the details of how he went from the projects to Forbes list. 

For all that information read his unauthorized biography by Zack O’Malley Greenburg: Empire State of Mind. Which was a great read. Read my review on it here.

This is not an autobiography about Jay-Z, it is a manuscript decoding hip hop culture and Jay-Z’s growth in it… something like that. I suspect Jay Z was attempting to do something different and epic with this book…

I’ll give it to Jay-Z he does attempt to tell us his story through song but the result of his story telling is that Decoded now needs to be decoded.

The book is set up like this: A narrative about a time in his life when certain songs were put together, the actual songs written out and footnotes ‘decoding’ certain lines and words. The ‘decoding’ is in the form of footnotes written on the adjacent page in not so eye-friendly small print.

As I dug deeper into a book, I started enjoying the insight on hip hop culture and how it fits in the American world; their influences and the game changers. Oh and because some of the songs are my all-time favourites I found myself playing them in my head, and actually reciting the lyrics out loud.

My second thought on the book: A think out of a box type of read.

As indicated Jay-Z decoded hip hop culture and once I got into that mind-set I started enjoying it. If you are a hip hop fan, your love for the genre will grow. 

The book is divided into four parts. The first section he speaks about his foundational years in the industry, how trust and honour played a part. Second section he speaks about determination, working hard and having a game plan to success. 

Third section he writes about the politics around hip hop. His final section is based on being at the top, staying at the top and understanding that many want to be at the top.

Honestly I will be the first to admit that to fully appreciate this book; I’ll have to read it again. One day I’ll make time for it. One highlight for me was that there are so many take home quotes. 

Here are some of my favourite;  
“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 wonders into strange, unexpected places,” Jay-Z

“We can’t be afraid to fly – or to be fly – which means soaring not just past our fear of failure but also past our fear of success,” Jay-Z

“Fear is a waste of time,” Jay Z

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