Jay-Z's 'Decoded': From Hip-Hop to Barack and Beyond

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This is a game people sometimes play with musicians: that to be real, to be authentic, you have to hate having money or that success has to feel like such a burden you want to kill yourself. But whoever said that artists shouldn't pay attention to their business was probably someone with their hand in some artist's pocket.

On success: In America -- and in hip-hop -- success is supposed to be about accumulation and consumption. But the finest meal ends up as s**t, which is a great metaphor for the fact that consumption's flip side is decay and waste, and what's left behind is emptiness. Empty apartments, empty stomach, unused objects. Which isn't to say I don't like buying things and having nice meals as much as the next person (okay, maybe even more), but success has to mean something beyond that.

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