Jay-Z sat down for a rare interview with England’s Sunday Times to talk about being a pandemic dad to his three kids, his new Puma campaign and what the COVID-19 lockdown taught him.
“If anything came from this,” he told the Times in the April 25 interview, “it’s that we have to recognize that we’re all connected. It’s a metaphor for how connected we are.”
In the interview — which took place via Zoom, with the star beaming in from the “vast terrace of his $90 million home in Bel-Air, with sun loungers and red and pink bougainvillea gleaming quietly behind him in the morning sun” — Jigga, 51, is described as looking “resolutely fresh-faced and casual” in a blue zip-up Puma sports jacket and short, loose dreads.
He’s also someone’s pops, so at one point youngest daughter Rumi wanders by and Jay takes a second to say, “Hiii, beautiful!” and blow kisses to son Sir’s twin before describing what it’s been like to lock down with the kids and wife Beyoncé. “In the beginning it was time for everyone to sit down and really connect, and really focus on family and being together, and take this time to learn more about each other,” he explained. “And then, as it wore on, it’s like, ‘OK, all right, what is the new normal?’”
Unlike some folks who burned out on all the puzzles and movie nights at some point over the past 13 months, Jay said he became even more focused on being the best parent possible, no matter what his day job is, or what legacy he plans to leave for his children. “Feeling loved is the most important thing a child needs, you know?,” he said. “Not, ‘here’s this business that I’m going to hand over to you, that I’m creating for you.’ What if my child doesn’t want to be in music or sports? I have no idea, right? But as long as your child feels supported, and feels loved, I think anything is possible.”
Of course, eldest daughter Blue Ivy, nine, has already made a name for herself as the second-youngest Grammy winner thanks to her songwriting collab with mom on “Brown Skin Girl.” So how does the couple make sure their offspring live a normal life inside the glare of the Hollywood celebrity bubble?
“Just make sure we provide a loving environment, be very attentive to who they want to be,” he said, noting that he has to hit the gym as often as possible just so he can chase his kids around on the lawn and not get winded. “It’s easy for us, as human beings, to want our children to do certain things, but we have no idea. We’re just guides.”
The chat, to promote Puma’s new Only See Great summer campaign — the company’s CEO, Bjorn Gulden was also on the Zoom call — is focused on the concept of rebounding from a particularly trying year. “We have to bounce back and we have to be great and we have to rebuild,” Jay said. “I’m forever an optimist.”
In light of the global embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Jay proudly pointed to Puma’s long association with Black athletes, specifically naming Puma sneaker-wearing sprinter Tommie Smith, famous for the Black Power salute he and team mate John Carlos gave at the 1968 Olympics on the medal stand. Gulden mentioned that he arranged a meeting between Smith and Jay, who clearly reveres the fortitude it took for the runner to raise his black glove-clad fist in that moment. “He did it at a time when it was not popular,” said Jay. “Today you can see the support — back then you’re risking your life, risking everything, you know?”
The interview also took place during the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd — Chauvin was found guilty on all counts last week — and Jay-Z said that it’s frustrating that more progress towards equality hasn’t been made in the intervening half century.
“As a human race we’re still on basic things,” he said, referring to appearances over content of character while acknowledging that the needle has moved over the past 50 years. “We’re still on Stop Asian Hate. We can’t sit and cry over spilt milk, but we do have to acknowledge that there’s milk, right?… But yes, to answer your question, it’s very frustrating.”
As sunny as his outlook is, it’s not clear if Jay will grace the stage anytime soon after he admitted, “I’m not planning it, but I’m definitely missing it.” He does, however, hope that his legacy so far has been cemented by the work he’s done. “I’m not beyond ego, right?” he said when asked if he thinks he’ll be remembered among the giants of the game. “Hopefully they speak of me [with] the names of Bob Marley and all the greats. But that’s not for me to say.”