Jay-Z’s creative process is further confirmation of his otherworldly talent, and he no longer even needs to jot his lyrics down before stepping foot in the booth.
It took ‘Hov’ years of mastering his craft before he felt comfortable enough to ditch the pen and rely solely on his intuitions in the studio. While his present technique works for him, not everybody is as gifted behind the microphone as Jay-Z, and he doesn’t advise aspiring rappers to replicate his methods at home.
In 2007, Jay spoke to MTV News about the advice he’s given to his younger cousin, who was then trying to make his way in the rap game. The guidance that ‘Hova’ provided to his mentee focused on the importance of writing and why it’s the key ingredient to becoming an eminent artist.
“Why I tell him to write every day is because it’s like anything else: [You have to] practice,” he explained. “Basketball players play basketball their whole life; they practice every day. It only makes sense. You can only get better. The repetition. The more you do it, the better you do.”
While this seems hypocritical considering Jay doesn’t follow his advice, that’s because he’s already put in the hard yards for years to the point where the rigorous daily training routine was no longer a necessity.
“It just felt better [the way I do it now],” Jay reflected upon his change in his working methods. “In my mind, I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna sit down, and I’mma just write it and really do this thing a certain way.’ But your natural process is your process. It’s difficult to go back to what you was doing when you was 15, 16 years old.
“My process is different now. It sounds great on paper, like ‘I’mma sit down, I’m going to write the entire album like I did before.’ But once you get back in the studio and you’ve been doing this process for years and years now, so it just felt natural to do it the way I’ve been doing it: no paper, no pen, just listen to the music.”
It’s natural for Jay’s way of creating art to develop as he’s acquired more experience and guile from the years spent as a recording artist. He’s learned the tricks of the trade and cunningly used them to his advantage. However, unless you’re prepared to work as tirelessly as Jay-Z, then listen to his advice, and write every damn day until you’ve made a piece of work that stands up against The Blueprint.