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Jay Z Discusses Fame and "Holy Grail" with Zane Lowe [YouTube Official Video]

Naomi McPherson

by Naomi McPherson

Published July 19, 2013

In the second part of his revealing BBC Radio 1 interview with London-based DJ and Producer Zane Lowe, Jay Z sat down to discuss his fame and the significance of the first track from MCHG, "Holy Grail". Lowe begins by playing the enormous track, which features an impressive and raw vocal appearance by Hov's frequent collaborator, Justin Timberlake. Jay indicated that the track was initially a source of contention between him and Kanye ('Ye was insistent that the track appear on Watch The Throne).

"I've heard Justin sing, and I think he's one of our generation's greats," Hov stated "[But] I've never heard him like this. This was the map for the album, that's why I couldn't give it up for the Throne album. 'This is the centerpiece for my next album.' That was my argument. It starts off this album, and I was correct in holding it. It was the right thing to do."

Lowe then asked Jay about the track's lyrical content, specifically in regards to how it addresses his relationship to notoriety and stardom. In "Holy Grail", Jay not only discusses his own fame, but the way that fame has brought about the failures of others.

"I'm really just thinking out loud," he stated "I'm trying to avoid it. I've seen it happen before, I've seen all the pitfalls and I'm playing with it."

"I'm playing a dance with this fame and I know it's like playing with a drug," Hov continued "It's very deadly. If it gets you, it pulls you in and it takes you somewhere dark. Some people never come back from it."

Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" sees a pretty extensive list of name drops, including but not limited to Kurt Cobain, MC Hammer, and Michael Jackson. Upon further discussion of "Holy Grail", Hov went on to talk specifically about his upset at boxer Mike Tyson's 1990 loss in Tokyo.

"The first verse I'm giving you the cautionary tale. Remember I'm from Brooklyn - when Mike Tyson lost in Tokyo, it was devastating to me. I was visibly hurt. I'm talking about these moments - all the ways that it could go wrong."

On modern day fame, Jay stated that there are days when he "just want[s] to be normal." He then went on to address the toll his fame takes on his attempt to normalize his role as a parent.

"You want to go to the store and just walk outside with your child and get some ice cream or something. There's another level to it that we have to deal with. Some days you're not in the mood to have a hundred cameras in your face."

Hov also discussed his longtime comrade Kanye West's new album, Yeezus, and its "polarizing" nature. Lowe aptly likened the album like standing in front of a piece at an art gallery - to one individual, it may make perfect sense but to another it might fall short.

"All he's been doing is striving for this moment - [he's] finding a place for expression" Hov said "It's good for music, forget hip-hop, it's good for music."

Via YouTube

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