Jay-Z has a new book coming out on November 16, and the Andy Warhol-inspired cover was revealed today. Its title, Decoded, is slightly misleading. Contrary to rumors, this isn’t the book where Jay gets misty-eyed about his rough childhood or dishes dirt on his marriage to Beyonce. Now that would be one hell of a bestseller. Instead, it’s Jay-Z yapping about Jay-Z’s lyrics. What’s that sound? Did I just hear your interest plummet straight to the ground? Decoded isn’t a particularly appealing concept in a world where salacious sells, but it’s still an interesting idea sure to win over lyrics junkies. It’s neither necessary nor unnecessary. You can’t simply decide that by glancing at the book title and press release.
Decoded peels back the veil on 36 songs from Jay-Z’s catalog.While Jay-Z is no Canibus, he does care about lyrics and it shows. You could make the case that he’s underrated as a lyricist.
Also, a good portion of this book was devoted to spelling out the real-life stories that inspired his lyrics – tales that would exist solely as topics of heated debates in Jay-Z fandom without its main player putting those speculations to rest. Subliminal disses, non-disses misread as shots, street portraits drawn from experience, etc. I want to know the stories behind those songs. I’m a rap nerd like that.