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Decoded Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 282 customer reviews

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Kindle, December 7, 2010
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Length: 336 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2010: Like its multi-hyphenate author, Jay-Z, Decoded is many things at once. At its core, Decoded is an eloquent and candid memoir detailing the story of a man who was born in a Brooklyn housing project, spent his teen years dealing drugs on the streets of Trenton, New Jersey, and grew up to be one of his generation’s most successful artists and businessmen. But Decoded is much more than a memoir: it is an intensely personal homage to hip-hop, as written by a man who so clearly adores the art form; it is a rare glimpse of the unexpectedly deep meanings behind the most recognizable rap lyrics of the last decade; and it is a truly moving collection of essays on topics ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the decline of the music industry. Unconventional type design, line drawings, and photographs visually emphasize the author’s message that rap is a form that transcends and defies easy categorization. There’s not much in the way of celebrity gossip here, but what we get, instead, is a gritty and enormously compelling look inside the cultural phenomenon of rap, from one of the men who contributed so much to its shape. --Juliet Disparte

Jay-Z on Decoded

When you're famous and say you're writing a book, people assume that it's an autobiography--I was born here, raised there, suffered this, loved that, lost it all, got it back, the end. But that's not what this is. I've never been a linear thinker, which is something you can see in my rhymes. They follow the jumpy logic of poetry and emotion, not the straight line of careful prose. My book is like that, too.

Decoded is first and foremost, a book of rhymes, which is ironic because I don't actually write my rhymes--they come to me in my head and I record them. The book is packed with the stories from my life that are the foundation of my lyrics--stories about coming up in the streets of Brooklyn in the 80's and 90's, stories about becoming an artist and entrepreneur and discovering worlds that I never dreamed existed when I was a kid. But it always comes back to the rhymes. There's poetry in hip-hop lyrics--not just mine, but in the work of all the great hip-hop artists, from KRS-One and Rakim to Biggie and Pac to a hundred emcees on a hundred corners all over the world that you've never heard of. The magic of rap is in the way it can take the most specific experience, from individual lives in unlikely places, and turn them into art that can be embraced by the whole world. Decoded is a book about one of those specific lives--mine--and will show you how the things I've experienced and observed have made their way into the art I've created. It's also about how my work is sometimes not about my life at all, but about pushing the boundaries of what I can express through the poetry of rap--trying to use words to find fresh angles into emotions that we all share, which is the hidden mission in even the hardest hip-hop. Decoded is a book about some of my favorite songs--songs that I unpack and explain and surround with narratives about what inspired them--but behind the rhymes is the truest story of my life.


Review

"People don't just expect new records from Jay - they expect epochal events, game-changing statements" Rolling Stone "Hip-hop's undisputed king" The Times "The most successful rapper alive" Guardian "The undisputed king of rap" NME "Will Self dismissed rap as unmelodic, inarticulate ranting - until Jay-Z's eloquent memoir and an anthology of lyrics came along to change his mind" The Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 21312 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (December 7, 2010)
  • Publication Date: December 7, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E8AIJS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bedford Stuyvesant was his country, and Brooklyn was his planet. With these words we are led into a world that you cannot imagine, that no film can do justice to. It requires hundreds of pages to absorb, and with each page you become further and further immersed. The graphic work accompanying the printed message is among the best I have ever seen, and it will help you to understand this very special person.

Somewhere in every person's life if you can experience transformation from where you were born to what your soul intended you to become, there is always a MENTOR figure. Sometimes it is a teacher, a relative, or a friend, but always someone.

For Jay-Z it was Slate, who was among the first street rappers, before they even put a name on the movement. He would stand in a circle; he could go 30 minutes just rhyming, as though he was trained for it. The young Jay-Z would stand and just be mesmerized by Slate, who seemed like an ordinary fellow until he stepped into the circle, and Jay-Z would transform himself by uttering the words, I can do that.

And therein begins a WILD RIDE, from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn to king of the hip hop movement. He would go from drug dealing and drug running to a billion dollar self created empire that would be the envy of any businessman. Years later, Russell Simmons another hip hop master, and mentor to Jay-Z would say, that one grows up wanting to wear a suit, but hip-hop would mean never having to grow up and instead one would wear sneakers to the board room.

Jay-Z Decoded will have an interesting audience. Yes there will the kids who will own it and never read it, but for those of us, who read this book cover to cover, I promise you that you will not put this book back on the shelf without being affected by it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I happened to catch an episode of Oprah a few weeks ago when she was in Australia and Jay-Z was a guest on her show. They talked about his book, Decoded, and how it changed the way she thought about Jay-Z and rap in general. A Jay-Z fan, I was intrigued and purchased Decoded for my Kindle.

Decoded was the perfect title and conveys multiple meanings. Jay-Z has the lyrics to many of his songs "decoded". The lyrics are seen in corresponding chapters with an extensive footnote section where he explains why he wrote some of the more cryptic lines. But more than just decoding his song lyrics, Jay-Z decoded many more issues for me: his early life, the drug culture, his business dealings, his philosophies on the music biz, politics, and why rap is so misunderstood by so many.

I came away from this book with a new appreciation for Jay-Z...his frankness and lack of apologies for his thug past, the affect of his father's abandonment, the intricacies of his lyrics, his business-savvy attitude and his apparent understanding of the world around him. But perhaps the biggest thing I came away with is a respect for Jay-Z the man. He's intelligent, articulate, and talented as well as paranoid (self described) and private. Rather than writing raps, he would speak them and transcribe them. In 6th grade, he was reading at a 12th grade level. He has a photographic memory. And whether it was by dealing drugs or having a rap career, Jay-Z strove to be the best at his game.

For people expecting a tell-all memoir, you will be disappointed in the book. Beyonce's name doesn't even appear. There are also many, many pages of song lyrics throughout the book that probably appeal to the most diehard fans but I skipped a lot of them. Decoded is a great read, and a book I expect will expand some people's minds (at least a little).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I approached Decoded from a "businessman's" perspective to get insight on how and why Jay does what he does. Like his rhymes, his writing takes a moment to digest, and re-read (often over and over again) as I believe he operates strategically to the "tee." I say this that because during his developmental years (from his early teens into his mid to late 20's) he spent his life in an environment where first level thinking would get you killed, or in jail. Someone of Jay's caliber has to think and process multiple levels down as he took on a leadership role even during his time working in capacities that weren't productive to American society. Instead of staying in Brooklyn to sell drugs, he chose to take a pioneers route and explore new territory (which is the fastest way to get killed, or arrested - Jay reflects on this within his writing as well). Thinking about that perspective, you will see how and why he was successful, and many times within the book if you actually take time to read (I'm not saying that you didn't take the time to read, I'm just rambling a bit here) what he's writing, he even repeatedly notes it himself. Someone who chooses to title his book "Decoded" is not an average thinker, nor will a reader totally digest all he has to say in one reading. In a way, I believe Jay wants you to dig deeper into what he's always saying whether written or "spoken" word. Think about it....

He sold drugs, yes, but, from what I took from his writing was that he was always looking at a larger goal. He fully embraced rapping from age 9, so I'm sure he always had a goal of transitioning and using his "past" life to fuel his future.
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What 'Decoded' should look like.
Well this book isn't a book about his life. This book is about his songs, his lyrics, the story behind them and their meanings. So depending on what songs he chose to reference, you may not get the things that you want out of this book. He's on record as stating that he doesn't want to do a... Read More
Oct 20, 2010 by Darren |  See all 2 posts
Is Decoded Appropriate for Young Teens?
I have just finished reading this book on my Kindle and I would have to say that it was an excellent read. In my opinion, as a high school teacher, this book would be PG-13 to maybe a R rating due to language. This book has no sex or violence in it and the improper language comes mostly from... Read More
Dec 21, 2010 by F. Chowdhury |  See all 4 posts
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