Speaking to Rap Radar’s Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller, Jay-Z explained the names Rumi and Sir during the hour-long conversation.
“Rumi is our favorite poet, so it was for our daughter,” Jay-Z said of his and Beyoncé’s love of the 12th century Persian poet. As for their son, “Sir was just like, man, come out the gate. He carries himself like that. He just came out, like, Sir.”
One of the most revealing moments on Jay-Z’s 4:44 comes during “Smile,” where Jay-Z opens up for the first time about his mother’s sexuality; Gloria Carter herself recorded a spoken word piece about being a lesbian for the track.
“The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free,” Gloria Carter says on the track. “But you live with the fear of just being me. Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be. No harm for them, no harm for me. But life is short, and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed.”
“We had a beautiful conversation that led to me making that song. I didn’t have permission to make that song,” Jay-Z said of “Smile.” “When she first heard the song, she said, ‘Absolutely not.’ This is so important. So many people in the world, hiding and things like this, and that’s all I say about that. And that’s how we spoke about this song. I’m so happy with the person that she’s become. Just live your life, be who you are. One of my proudest songs.”
The rapper also briefly touched on the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington during a conversation about mental health. “I think that we can use it and hopefully, as a society, we use that to go forward… people can start getting help,” he said. “Someone somewhere could be looking at Chester and be like, ‘Man, I wasn’t feeling so good and I need to get some help or I need to talk to somebody about it.'” Jay-Z later paid tribute to his Collision Course collaborator during a concert.
The second half of the Rap Radar interview included Jay-Z talking about his former beefs, including his one-time feud with the late Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy.
“I had super respect for Prodigy. In order for me to spar with you, I gotta respect you,” Jay-Z said. “I sampled him for my first album, so you know I was aware of him and had a respect for him. Me and him spoke before he passed. I saw him in the club maybe five years ago. He just came over and we just like kicked it. It wasn’t about nothing. It’s just sad.”
“I’ve had enough rap beef,” Jay-Z added. “I’ve checked out of that part of the game.”
In the first installment of the Tidal-exclusive interview, Jay-Z discussed his Kanye West beef and recording 4:44.
~ Mark Twain