Whispers have long abounded about what exactly went on in Jay-Z and Beyonce's marriage to spur some of the lyrics in the former's 4:44 album, and his in-depth interview with Dean Baquet for T Magazine finally offers some confirmation. After the New York Times executive editor tells the star that his album sounded a lot like "a therapy session," Jay-Z comes clean about how his own personal demons caused him to "shut down emotionally," including with women (and ostensibly his wife), and that "then all the things happen from there," including "infidelity." He admits the music the couple created in reaction to their marital discord was "very, very uncomfortable," but that "the best place in the … hurricane is like in the middle of it … right in the middle of the pain."
Another important relationship in Jay-Z's life: the one with his mom, who only recently told him she was gay. "Everyone knew" before she came out, Jay-Z notes, but since she officially filled him in, they began "having these beautiful conversations, and just really getting to know each other." Baquet also presses the rapper on whether he thinks black artists have a different obligation than white ones, his up-and-down relationship with Kanye West—"there's gonna be complications in the relationship that we have to get through"—and even how Jay-Z thinks there's one "great thing" about Donald Trump being president. "Now we're forced to have the dialogue [about racism]," he notes. "He's provided the platform for us to have the conversation." More of the interview here, including their discussion on OJ Simpson and the interesting theory on how OJ's racial ambivalence may have led him to snap. (Read more Jay-Z stories.)