Friday, November 19, 2010

Jay-Z and I Are Related

I'm a huge fan of the program Fresh Air on NPR. I got hooked after host, Terry Gross, interviewed actor Gabriel Byrne. She is not the most polished interviewer, but her questions probe deep and people always seem to embrace it. This week she had the opportunity to interview Jay-Z on the eve of the release of his new book, Decoded. If you listen to it, you'll hear how awkward all of it was. I hear it was the same during her interview with Tracy Morgan. I just got the sense that she has the confused appreciation for Jay-Z and just doesn't know how to express it. Either way, a 45 second exchange within the first five minutes the most profound. Here's how it went down:
[Terry Gross] In talking about sampling, I'm reminded of something you say in the book that I thought was really interesting. You know you talk about your parents having a big record collection. You're father left when you were very young, I think when you were nine, and you say that most of your friends' fathers had left. You say "Our fathers were gone usually because they just bounced, but we took their old records and used them to build something fresh."
After a long pause, he goes on profoundly to say, "Yeah....yeah, I guess there's a bright side to everything." It seemed to work out fairly well for Jay-Z, right? Well, outside of fame, fortune, and a sweet ability to create rhymes, if I were to meet Jay-Z we would be able to talk about one thing we have in common - growing up without a dad. He had his pops for several years and even afterward it seems there were echoes of his dad around as Jay-Z listened to the words of other people even though his dad was silent in his life. Everyone of us without fathers still have some kind of records they left behind.

Interestingly, I've been wondering about what "records" my dad has left behind for me. For those of us who grow up without fathers, their imprint is still left on our lives on some level. Genetics definitely plays a role, but the footprints of absence make an enormous impact as well. This is a time in my life where I am thinking about how to take those footprints - those records - and make something fresh too. I acknowledge that my father made some very poor decisions, decisions that could easily haunt me the rest of my life (I do wonder if Jay-Z thinks about that at all). However, at the risk of sounding repetitious, God is a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5) and I know the true Spirit of adoption as God's son through Christ, the one True Son (Rom 8:15-17; Gal. 4:4-7), so though my earthly father was not around, my heavenly Father is always with me. I have nothing tangible from my father; he never "left," he was just never there to begin with. Yet, as I've said, now is the time of my life where the intangible records are being understood all the more, and with my heavenly Father, I can make something that is not only fresh, but redeemed.

What about you? Have you considered what records your father has left for you, whether he was in your life growing up or not? If so, what are they and what are you doing with them? Whichever way they come, with heartache or with joy, do you see the opportunity to make something fresh with them?

By His Grace.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Good thoughts. Hope I too can make something fresh out of the records my dad left for me.

  2. Thanks, Katie. Looking forward to seeing some of that freshness :)