A year ago, when Jay Z was still a young, hot-selling rapper, he made his debut with a single: “I’m Not Gonna Let You Down.”
But in the years since, Jay has been working with some of the most influential music producers in the game, working on songs for artists like Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar.
And the results have been some of their most successful, selling over a million copies of his debut album, and the platinum-selling, three-time Grammy winner is now working on a fourth.
He also wrote a song about the rapper, the new film, and even a remake of “Clueless.”
But Jay is not the only one who has helped turn the songwriting landscape around in recent years.
The last time I spoke to Jay, he was already writing a book on his experience as a producer and an artist.
He was in a studio with some friends in Los Angeles in December 2015, when he heard a snippet of an old song he’d heard in his late teens.
He immediately started brainstorming lyrics for the track.
“I knew that it was a great idea and it would work,” he said.
“Then I heard a song and I was like, Oh, my god.
I don’t know if I could do this.”
Jay began thinking about what it would be like to create his own music, writing lyrics about his own experiences as a songwriter, and also how he felt about what he saw as the current state of the industry.
He wanted to understand how different he felt and what he wanted to change.
He started writing songs about his feelings about the music industry.
“It was just this crazy feeling, but also this deep, deeper, deeper feeling,” he explained.
“Like I wanted to be like, ‘I want to write songs that are just for myself.’
Like, I can’t be like ‘I’m gonna be a rapper, man.'”
He was working with a producer named Sam Clements, who’d been helping Jay for years with his production and was one of the first to introduce him to a new genre of music: dubstep.
“The whole time I was working on it, I was trying to find a way to say, ‘How do I take the sound and the feeling of dubstep, and make it something that feels like it’s from my own heart, that feels more real than it sounds?'” he said, adding that he felt “like a kid at Christmas who was trying so hard to create a Christmas present.”
Jay’s interest in dubstep had been growing steadily since he was in high school.
“There’s this weirdness of dubs and how they have that little bit of pop in them,” he recalled.
“They’ve been around for so long, I just figured it was just like, this is my thing.
It’s my thing, and I can do it.”
The idea for “Crazy” came as Jay was making his way through college, writing his first songs.
It was in the early stages, he recalls, when Clements introduced him to an upcoming project he’d just been working on.
“At the time, he didn’t even know I was a producer, but he just said, ‘You know, I like what you do.’
He just said he liked the way you wrote, the way the production was going.”
Jay, who now works with a number of top producers, including Kendrick Lamar, has been collaborating with artists like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Maren Morris for the last five years.
He’s worked with artists as diverse as Nicki, Drake, Nick Jonas, Jhené Aiko, Future, and more, and his recent collaborations have included collaborations with Justin Bieber and Kendrick.
Jay says he has never been more excited to work with artists than when he hears new music.
“When I hear something new, I feel like I’m at the place where I should be,” he says.
“And when I hear someone I like, I’m like, Hey, that’s me.
I’m happy to hear that.
That’s like, OK, we can work together.”
Jay-z has also helped create a new music industry that is more collaborative, in the way that artists can work on songs in real time.
“Every song has to be written from the heart, and every song has a story,” he explains.
“This is a big part of it, too, because it’s so rare to have a song written by someone that is actually a musician.”
The industry has always been a collaborative place, and Jay-uz has been one of its biggest and most powerful producers.
But now, as the industry shifts away from a producer-driven, corporate-dominated model, and towards an industry of fans, producers, and fans, that model is beginning to look more like a traditional music business.
Jay-iz has also noticed a lot of changes. “We