JONES| Are You Real? Honesty and Authenticity in Music Pt. 2


Note: This column is the second of two on the subject of authenticity in popular music. Last week’s focused on rock and genres that influenced it, while this column focuses on rap. In Jay Z’s scalding diss track “Takeover” from 2001’s seminal The Blueprint, he attacks his rival Nas, claiming that Nas embellished and fictionalized his past: “You ain’t lived it, you witnessed it from your folks’ pad / You scribbled in your notepad, and created your life.” Then in his 2010 memoir Decoded, Jay Z writes, “The rapper’s character is essentially a conceit, a first-person literary creation. The core of that character has to match the core of the rapper himself. But then that core gets amplified by the rapper’s creativity and imagination.”

        In the second quote, Jay Z essentially acknowledges that he, and in fact all rappers, do precisely the thing that he accuses Nas of in the first.