Probably not you, because you’re not a rapper. But if we were ranking hip-hop artists on who is the best in the underground, we wouldn’t put you near the top.
But it’s true: Jay Z’s first couple years were like, “Hmmmm, this is really going to work out,” and it did, but he started to lose his focus and he didn’t have a real identity. He doesn’t know who his actual fans are, and he’s trying to do that on his album, and it might be working. But the thing about Jay Z that makes him special is that he’s an anomaly. He’s an anomaly in the rap field in that he exists. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He doesn’t care if there’s no radio play or what happens when he goes to a festival. He doesn’t care about whether or not he has five and six million albums and why it’s doing what it’s doing. He just wants it to be his. And if you want people who care about something, they’ll buy it.
AVC: You are obviously a part of that. You’ve been around since it started, you have an incredible following, you have a lot of friends, but even if you’re an outsider, he can be very mysterious to fans. Does this sort of alienating feel like, “You know what? My friends know who I am, and what I do and what I’m doing, and what I like, but the outside world doesn’t know who I am?”
JD: I wish those things didn’t matter too much when I was creating my work. I think those things are important to being a talented person. I think that I could do whatever the fuck I wanted. But the way Jay Z has been able to keep a very small audience in the back of his mind, he’s made me who I am and why I have been able to do this. I don’t think he really gave it a second thought. I think for most people who’re making music in this day and age, it’s important to be open-minded and look at how people are doing things and how they’re getting feedback. When you see a DJ doing a performance with a huge crowd and how great it is and then you see another DJ do the same thing and he’s doing the exact same thing, you sort of get into that mode, where it’s like, “That’s good for the market, but if that’s
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