From selling crack cocaine as a teenage hustler to becoming one of America's richest rappers, Jay-Z writes about his life, decodes his music and explains hip-hop culture in his literary debut "Decoded," which was released on Tuesday last week.
Decoded is not a proper autobiography.
It doesn't flow in a linear fashion, it doesn't tell the story of a young Shawn Carter growing up to become multimillionaire rapper/entrepreneur Jay-Z (well, sort of, but not exactly), or the details of his relationship with his wife Beyonce (in fact, she is mentioned in passing only once).
Decoded is a book about hip hop; about its place in history, in politics and in American pop culture, filtered through the lens of an artist who has become one of the genre's most iconic figures.
``Rap . . . is, at heart, an art form that gave voice to a specific experience,'' he concludes, ``but, like every art, is ultimately about the most common human experiences: joy, pain, fear, desire, uncertainty, hope, anger, love.''
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