If you haven’t heard Jay-Z’s 13th studio album “4:44,” there are a few things you probably don’t know: First, the title track seems to be a pretty heartfelt apology to his wife Beyoncé for his past infidelities (which she hinted at in her incredible 2016 album “Lemonade”).
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Second, the album as a whole might best be described as “a middle-aged black man’s deeply introspective therapy session put to music” — that’s according to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, who interviewed the 47-year-old rapper and mogul for the latest issue of T Magazine.
And what a compelling interview it is, with one of the most prolific entertainers in the world opening up about how going to therapy changed his life for the better.
“I grew so much from the experience,” Jay-Z said. “But I think the most important thing I got is that everything is connected. Every emotion is connected, and it comes from somewhere…. The strongest thing a man can do is cry. To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That’s real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That’s not real. It’s fake.”
Throughout the rest of his intimate conversation with Baquet, Jay-Z continued to talk in a way that revealed just how much he’d taken away from the experience — especially overcoming the toxic defense mechanisms he learned growing up in Brooklyn.
“You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode what happen? You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect…. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity….”
Therapy not only helped Jay-Z with his marriage, but also the way he dealt with friendships, particularly his tumultuous relationship with Kanye West. “There’s gonna be complications in the relationship that we have to get through,” he said. “And the only way to get through that is we sit down and have a dialogue and say, ‘These are the things that I’m uncomfortable with. These are the things that are unacceptable to me. This is what I feel.’” (Sounds like he has therapy-speak down!)
Before the end of the interview, Jay-Z came back to his infidelity, admitting that he and Beyoncé fought to save their marriage: “And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations,” he said. “You know, most people walk away, and the divorce rate is, like, 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.” Amen!
Hopefully Jay-Z’s incredibly candid interview will help continue to remove the stigma around men and therapy and show there is never shame in getting professional help when needed.
What Do YOU Think?
Is there a fear of therapy among your friends or family? Are you surprised by how open Jay-Z was with his own experience? Let us know in the comments below.