In his lifetime, Jay-Z has always poured his real life into his ever-evolving raps, and while the birth of his first child has surely changed Shawn Carter the man, fans await to see if being a dad has had any effect on Hov the artist.
It's possible that being a dad would soften the man who once stuck up a rival drug dealer on "Friend or Foe" or who thumbed his nose at New York's district attorney on "Izzo," right?
"Nah, I think he's gotten a little bit more gritty," The-Dream said of his pal Hov when he sat down on "RapFix Live" Wednesday.
The singer/songwriter and producer has been in the studio with Jay doing "a little something," he said without divulging much else. There's been rumblings of a 12th solo LP, but nothing has been confirmed — and certainly not by The-Dream.
"It's so hard because on one hand, I'm really always anxious and excited about new music with everybody that I'm working with. On the other hand, they're always A-List, high-profile, so nobody really wants them to know," he said. "So it's hard for me to actually explain what I'm working on, when it's coming."
The-Dream says there is an unwritten rule when it comes to working with artists like Jay-Z or Beyoncé. If the rule was actually written, it would most likely read: "Keep Your Mouth Shut."
On Rick Ross' "3 Kings," a track which Jay guested on last year after Blue Ivy was born, Hov lyrically reverted to a portion of his 1980's street self, so a more gritty Jigga isn't inconceivable.
The way The-Dream sees it, Jay has surpassed all of his rap contemporaries and exists as something more. "I think he's becoming more of a painting. It's just moving. It's just traveling through time now," he said. "It's like when da Vinci drew something and you have to start looking at it like that."
The Grammy Award-winning "Falsetto" singer says Jay is as great as he allows himself to be. While 1996's Reasonable Doubt and 2001's The Blueprint are artistic pillars in his discography, but insists that the God MC has gotten better. "There's no way to be surprised again. If any one of us does anything great, it's hard to surprise you. You already have an expectation level that's so high," he reasoned. "So he's definitely more skilled and better than he was, but are you really surprised?"
Are you ready for a more gritty Jay-Z? Let us know in the comments!