This is too cool not to share and I want to encourage other people to pick this gorgeous book up. First of all, it's a beauty and will make all writers jealous. The narrative, or rather, apologia of the life of a hip-hop king, is juxtaposed with images, pull quotes, and codes for many of Jay-Z's songs, but not in a way that looks like a crappy coffee table book. This is the real thing. This is book as artifact. My hand to God.
From Jay-Z's new memoir, "Decoded":
"But even when a rapper is just rapping about how dope he is, there's something a little bit deeper going on. It's like a sonnet, believe it or not. Sonnets have a set structure, but also a limited subject matter: They are mostly about love. Taking on such a familiar subject and writing about it in a set structure forced sonnet writers to find every nook and cranny in the subject and challenged them to invent new language for saying old things. It's the same with braggadacio in rap. When we take the most familiar subject in the history of rap - why I'm dope - and frame it within the sixteen-bar structure of a rap verse, synced to the specific rhythm and feel of the track, more than anything it's a test of creativity and wit."