That's all changed with the release of Jay's first book, "Decoded," which seeks to chronicle the source of the MC's bars.
With 11 #1 albums under his belt, however, and no signs of slowing down, it begs the question: Why pull back the curtain now?
"I think it was important because of Obama and the way the world is moving forward," Jay-Z told MTV News on Monday (November 15) at the New York Public Library, citing the cultural shift of the urban lifestyle going from below the radar to the forefront.
"We finally elected a black man president," he continued. "So in order for us to close that chapter, to close the last chapter that we have to deal with, we have to really understand it in a way. I guess that's what therapy is about; you have to understand it in a way before you can move forward."
"Decoded" is part memoir, part lyrical deconstruction, as Jay-Z narrates parts of his younger life that would eventually influence his later years. He argues that deeply embedded experiences that become written word are exactly why rap should be considered poetry.
The trouble, he said, is that while many enjoy listening to hip-hop, oftentimes they don't pick up on the stories being relayed in the songs.
"A lot of people listen to music, but they don't really listen to it," he explained. "You may know the words and you may bop your head to it, but you don't really understand what you're singing."
Are you looking forward to learning the stories behind Jay-Z's rhymes? Let us know in the comments!