Jay-Z Defends Rap As An Art Form On 'The Daily Show'

Hov gives Jon Stewart a lighthearted version of the purpose of his book, 'Decoded.'

Jay-Z's whirlwind promotional tour for his just-released book, "Decoded," landed him on Wednesday night's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." The banter between Hova and Stewart was lighthearted — the rapper, businessman and author threw up the Roc hand sign while taking his seat — but still managed to touch on the weightier aspects of hip-hop culture.

"The basis of this book was, I care about the culture and about rap and it being a respectable form of art," Jay-Z said, echoing what he told MTV News earlier this week. "The book is surrounded around these songs, but it's also about a generation of kids. We grew up around the same time as rap. ... It's basically a story behind those songs, you know, context."

After some talk about rappers going from admonishing police to actually needing them in light of their newfound fame, the topic shifted to rap music's maturation. "Every art form has its pie in the face, more low-brow," Stewart said, comparing hip-hop to comedy. "But then there's always been the poets. I've always seen rap as more almost the embodiment of, like, Richard Pryor. How Richard Pryor started out, he didn't really talk about his real life, he was doing shtick, and then he grew into an artist and began to explore himself. It seems like the story of rap is that same story."

Jay-Z agreed with Stewart's sentiment and also noted the genre's use as a scapegoat for America's ills. To this Stewart drew laughs when he quipped, "As a Jew, I want to thank you for that. ... When you guys came along, it really took the heat off our shoulders."

Stewart then inquired if rappers felt they were being unfairly targeted for their form of expression. "Of course, I'm not talking about all rap, because some of it is sh--, and some of it is great," Jay-Z deadpanned before adding that hip-hop gets attacked for troubles that regardless of its existence "were going on in the community daily ... no pun intended."

And when Stewart asked if rap's success had lead to increased scrutiny, Jay-Z talked of "reverends in our community driving bulldozers over our CDs," likely alluding to Reverend Calvin O. Butts III's threats to drive a steamroller over rap CDs in 1993 to protest offensive lyrics.

The televised segment ended with Stewart asking Jay-Z if he had another five minutes for more questions. The extended (and uncensored) version of the interview, in which they discuss the natural progression of rapper to entrepreneur and how hip-hop will mature in the coming days, is now posted on TheDailyShow.com.

What did you think of Jay-Z's appearance on "The Daily Show"? Talk about it in the comments.