For those wondering what prompted his move away from the double-time rhyme scheme used on songs such as “I Can’t Get With That” and “The Originators,” Jay-Z says it was a simple matter of style versus substance.
“When I first started writing raps, I was a kid,” Jay-Z explained. “I started when I was nine-years-old, so I didn’t have real life experiences. The thing I drew off of was being creative. It was more about the technique than what I was saying. I was trying to say things in different ways—doing faster flows and triplet styles. It was more of a technical thing.”
Jay added that as he collected more real life experiences, he focused more on subject matter and less on the technical aspects of his rhymes. The slowed-down delivery, with an attention to social commentary manifested itself on songs such as “Minority Report,” which addressed Hurricane Katrina and “Say Hello,” which took Don Imus and Al Sharpton to task in one of its verses.
“It became more about the words, more about what I was saying and more about this emotion and this truth,” Jay-Z said, while pointing out that he revisited the face-paced rhyme scheme, presumably on songs such as “Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originators ’99)” among others. “I still had the technical side because I was writing for so many years.”
The video interview is part of a promotional campaign for an iPhone application in conjunction with Jay-Z’s Decoded memoir/lyric book. A similar interview, also found on Jay-Z’s official YouTube channel emerged last fall; the clip featured Jay explaining the lyrics to his song, “Most Kings.”