Jay-Z’s ‘Harrowing’ Memoir

Jay-Z is as handy with prose as he is with verse. The New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani says Jay-Z’s memoir, Decoded, is “less a conventional memoir or artistic manifesto than an elliptical, puzzlelike collage.” She says it’s “[art autobiography, part lavishly illustrated commentary on the author’s own work”—it deconstructs Jay-Z’s lyrics and sheds light on their meaning. Kakutani says the book “underscores how the pressures of Jay-Z’s former life as a dealer honed his gifts as a writer, including a survivor’s appraising sense of character, an observer’s eye for detail and a hustler’s penchant for wordplay and control.”