Jay Z is letting fans in on his story of rags to riches.
In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair for the publication’s November issue, the rapper opens up about his struggle, life before fame, and his world as we all know it today.
During the interview, Hova told VF’s Lisa Robinson that his mother knew he was dealing drugs as a teenager. “But, we never really had those conversations. We just pretty much ignored it. But she knew. All the mothers knew. It sounds like ‘How could you let your son . . . ’ but I’m telling you, it was normal,” the rapper explained.
“Crack was everywhere … It was inescapable. There wasn’t any place you could go for isolation or a break. You go in the hallway; there are crackheads in the hallway. You look out in the puddles on the curbs … Crack vials are littered in the side of the curbs. You could smell it in the hallways, that putrid smell; I can’t explain it, but it’s still in my mind when I think about it.”
As a child, the rapper’s family struggled to make ends meat. The 43-year-old admitted to the publication that he was living in a tough situation.
“Sometimes we’d pay the light bill, sometimes we paid the phone, sometimes the gas went off. We weren’t starving … We were eating, we were OK. But it was things like you didn’t want to be embarrassed when you went to school; you didn’t want to have dirty sneakers or wear the same clothes over again.”
Jay Z recently made the list for Forbes highest-earning hip-hop artist, but the rapper didn’t reach that high point by music alone, but by having a business savvy mind. “I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he said.
“To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash … Those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of that life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.”
For more on Jay’s interview with VF, pick up the November issue on stands in LA/NY today, and nationally on November 8.