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“Decoded” a Book by Jay-Z Essay

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Updated: Sep 19th, 2020

Being a successful hip-hop artist, Jay-Z also succeeded in writing his book Decoded in 2010. One of the most powerful aspects of his project is his intentions not to impose his opinion and make the reader accept one and unshakable position but to provide the reader with an overall picture of why some many people choose rap as one of the possible ways to their personal salvation. He created the book about his experience, his life, and the place of hip-hop in it.

There are three main goals Jay-Z identified before he started writing the book that are to help people identify hip-hop lyrics as poetry in case they “look at them closely enough” (235), to tell the story of his generation and explain the context for the choices people make “at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history” (235), and to introduce hip-hop as the way “to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to” (236).

I think that he was rather successful in the majority of his endeavors, and it is possible to find several explanations in the text of how the author used his story, his experience, and his faith to prove the power and importance of hip-hop lyrics in the world.

From the very first pages of the book, it was clear that Jay-Z wanted to use his own story and his ability to identify rap as his destiny. Was the world chaotic and violent? Of course, it was because even Jay-Z’s first meeting with hip-hop alive was in the circle of “scrappy, ashy, skinny Brooklyn kids laughing and clapping their hands” (Jay-Z 4). There was no order, no rules, and no principles. It was the time when children and young adults did what they wanted to do and chose the songs they liked.

Therefore, the story of generation is properly described in the book, and the second goal of the author was met. As for the choices that were made at the violent crossroads, Jay-Z mentioned the period of hip-hop commercialization when rapper got angry and did not want to share their achievements (128). Rappers did not want to sell their projects. They wanted their lyrics being available to all people, who could identify it as a sort of poetry under its close examination. Jay-Z introduced his life as poetry with unpredictable leaps and links that allowed him staying “open to the next thing without feeling held back” (191).

Jay-Z’s one more goal was to use his powerful experience and create a story other people may relate to. In fact, his book could help many people to realize how crucial the role of a family could be. The author mentioned the period when he shaped his vocabulary and how music helped to bring his family together and considered as “a common passion my parents shared” (254). Such attention to the details could be interesting not only for devoted rappers but for ordinary people, who want to know more about the ways of how music unites people.

In general, the book Jay-Z wrote is the source that raises one of the most important questions: “What’s the meaning of life?” (Jay-Z 256). Rap is one of the possible options to rely on for those, who want to answer this question using their songs, ideas, and activities.

Works Cited

Jay-Z. Decoded. New York: Spiegel & Grau Trade Paperback Edition, 2010. Print.

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