Me: Jay, I want to thank you so much for coming to meet me.
JZ: No problem.
Me: I hope this doesn’t put you out of your comfort zone.
JZ: A Bakery?
Me: Do you go to a lot of bakeries.
Me: What do you normally eat at bakeries.
JZ: Baguette’s. Sourdough.
Me: Love sourdough.
JZ: Pain au chocolates.
Me: You like croissants.
Me: “Hurry up with my damn—”
Me: I love that song.
JZ: Yeezy’s my boy.
Me: He’s great.
Me: You’re so human. You eat. You like people.
JZ: Me and you the same, kid.
Me: I have always thought— listening to your music — that you and I were like, kindred spirits.
JZ: I can see that.
Me: Seriously? Your music—
JZ: You like the music?
Me: I think you’re a genius.
Me: I’m serious. I don’t use that word lightly either.
JZ: I hear you.
Me: Beethoven, Zeppelin—
Me: Jethro Tull—
JZ: Most definitely.
Me: Sondheim. To me these are genius’ and you are absolutely one of them.
JZ: You a genius.
Me: Shut up.
JZ: You got skills, e.
Me: Shut up. You’ve never seen me in anything.
JZ: I’m seeing you right now.
Me: I’m just some moron that came up to you, and asked for an interview.
JZ: It’s all good. You seem like you need a chat.
Me: Sorry, do you want coffee? Can I buy you coffee?
Me: Um, a cappuccino? Or, just coffee.
JZ: Cappuccino with hazelnut.
Me: I don’t think they have hazelnut in this bakery. I’ll ask.
JZ: I’m Jay-Z. They gonna have hazelnut.
Me: Do you ever get told “no?”
JZ: I would have to say “yes” just in order to not hear that word “no.”
JZ: But no.
Me: No. You get everything you want. That is amazing. God, I would love to be you.
JZ: You are me, son.
Me: No. Definitely not. I don’t have your swagger. What makes Jay-Z?
JZ: That’s a good question.
Me: What makes Jay-Z, Jay-Z?
JZ: I would say inspiration, meditation, and hard work.
Me: Hard work.
JZ: Hitting the bag.
Me: What bag?
JZ: The workout bag. Like a boxer.
Me: Oh, you just practice all the time?
JZ: Every day.
JZ: Everyday, everyday, and you know what I’m gonna say. Everyday, everyday, know the children wanna play.
Me: Did you just make that up?
JZ: C’mon, son.
Me: You didn’t. You had that written somewhere.
JZ: Top of the skull.
Me: You’re a god.
Me: You’re not my god. I don’t have one. But you are. I wish you were me.
JZ: Excuse me?
Me: I don’t know what I mean to say. I wish… I wish I could see how you would act in my life. My situations. Like I got shit with my dad, and I got shit with—
JZ: I ain’t got shit with my dad?
Me: Do you?
JZ: My father wasn’t around.
Me: That’s right. He was a drinker? Sorry, if I’m being—
JZ: That’s cool. I know what you thinking. I know you don’t mean it being invasive.
Me: I don’t.
JZ: It’s cool. He was a drinker. He was harmful to my family. I forgive him. That’s what you gotta do.
Me: I have to forgive my father?
JZ: Definitely. Love him for that.
JZ: My father ain’t around. You father still here?
Me: He is.
JZ: I ain’t never had the chance to show him I become a man.
JZ: You don’t think he’d love to see me picking up my kid? See my career. See me go onstage at the Garden. Taking care of my family.
Me: He would. He would be so proud of you, J.
JZ: Thanks, man.
Me: I mean that. I barely know you — I don’t know you — and I’m proud of you.
JZ: That means a lot.
Me: What about my kid?
JZ: What about him.
Me: Well, I don’t get to see him so much. How would you—
JZ: Why not? That’s your son?
Me: Yeah, that’s a picture of him at his favorite pizza place in DC. We ate pizza here all the time.
JZ: You a good father, E.
Me: Stop it, J.
JZ: For real man. You taking your kid to pizza. You got him on your phone. Most actors you get around ’em they talking about themselves. Making it seem like they real humble, but they like name dropping.
Me: Humble bragging.
JZ: Exactly. Humble-bragging. You ain’t talking about yourself — you talking about your dad, you talking about your kid.
JZ: How much you think of him?
Me: I think of him.
JZ: How much you think of him when he’s not here?
Me: I’m going to cry, J. Stop.
JZ: How much you think about him when he ain’t here?
Me: All the time. That’s all I do. It’s a fight. It’s a battle to get him out of my head.
JZ: Hey. You don’t take him out of your head. That ain’t for you to decide. He in your guts.
Me: I know.
JZ: He in your guts. He a part of your spit. You can separate him as much as you can separate yourself from your bones.
Me: Right. Pass me that napkin.
JZ: For real.
Me: Thank you, J.
JZ: Yo, yo, yo, yo my kid is; Kinda like this shirt is, clinging to my body, hold him like he dying; never want leave him; always try to be him; Finding ways to reach him; Yeah I got him breathing.
Me: You just made that up?
JZ: For real.
Me: Stop it. I know you wrote that already.
JZ: Top of my head.
Me: You’re brain is like, tuned so well to your heart… you just speak emotion. Your language is the currency of emotion. I don’t know how to say it.
JZ: You a great dad, e.
Me: Thanks, J. I know you don’t have to say that.
JZ: I don’t.
Me: And you don’t know how much that means.
JZ: Yeah, I do.