Jay-Z Says Oprah, Cornel West Sparked 'Decoded'


By Hillary Crosley, with reporting by Sway Calloway

On Monday (November 15), Jay-Z spoke to MTV News' Sway about some of the catalysts for his book "Decoded." One happens to be black America's top minds, while the other is one of the most influential voices in the world.

"I've always been a fan of his, of his speaking," said Jay-Z of Dr. Cornel West and why he invited him to moderate his "Decoded" talk at the New York Public Library. "I met him awhile ago, he came to my house, him and a guy who runs Harlem Children Zone, Jeffrey Canada. We had this great conversation at my dining room table about the separation and about language and about hip-hop and of course they were against it."

Though the trio didn't agree, Jay said something sparked in him that day.

"We left there with a different understanding and that's why I really wrote this book because everybody who I encountered, Oprah included—she was another reason—we've had that conversation," said Jay. " ... Me and Oprah left the room like 'We'll just have to agree  to disagree.' But we both left there with a clear understanding that we had a lot in common."

Sway then asked the MC if "Decoded" was a sign that the Brooklyn boy made good was stepping up as a leader of the hip-hop generation.

"Yeah, this is the thing that saved my life, so regardless of whether I'm voted in or not, I have a responsibility as a human being to make sure that it's better than how I [found] it and that's really what I believe," said Jay. "If that means having conversations and getting people to understand it more, then that's what it means."

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