Valentine's Day 2013 was a good one for me. Me and my wife unceremoniously exchanged gifts. I had a custom gift basket made for her which featured some Victoria Secret products. She in turn, surprised me with underwear, candy, a card, and Jay-Z's book, "Decoded". My wife knows of my admiration for the hip hop superstar. I am a r&b/soul dude...singer, ladies man, lover not a fighter, and yet I am a serious fan of this superstar, mainstream rapper turned business man.
I own all of Jay-Z's albums, except for Watch The Throne. I watch just about every performance he has, whether it's on DVD, live T.V., or streaming live from YouTube. He especially sparked my interest when he announced the release of his very own book in 2010. I heard all of the promo, and even saw the interviews of Jay-Z describing what the book was about. It intrigued me. So you may be surprised, that once I read it (I was so amped, it only took me 1 day), I was a little disappointed.
Jay-Z's book is a beautiful book. It follows somewhat of a minimalist format and design. The minimalist format is one that I myself have adopted in my side graphic design projects, after attending some classes at Full Sail University. Some of the pages have larger font, there is quotes on the sides of the pages. There are real life stories intertwined with the lyrics of songs, and then topped off with the explanation of specific lyrics. This was all very interesting and it kept my attention the whole time. I had never read a book with this particular format. I loved the way it read. After reading the book, for the first time in my life, I actually felt like I had an inside look at a superstar. Someone that I actually admired musically and personally.
The down side to all of this was when I subsequently started my car the next morning, and while hyped from the fresh memory of Decoded in my head, I reached for my CD book, and proceeded to go through each of Jay-Z's albums. After listening to every album up until "The Dynasty", I realized, that Jay left out many of the songs that really were not as deep as the ones he highlighted in his book. For example, songs such as "Give It To Me", while it was a radio hit, and had much mainstream success, was not broken down in the book. I found that Jay left out many of the songs that would be considered the party songs, or the "shallow" songs, or songs with little depth.
Although I loved this book, and all of it's trappings, I'm disappointed Jay-Z didn't chronicle or explain a more well rounded example of his work. Much of his success was built on the party songs or the songs that did well at radio. The songs with more depth and deeper meanings were sometimes album fillers. I almost felt deprived, but how could I when I also felt that I actually got to know Jay-Z? I guess that is the ultimate fan in me. Wanting to know all about someone you admire is an endless goal.
I recommend this book to any and everyone who can read