Jay-Z, Behind The Rhymes: Hov Explains How To Make An LP 'Tell A Great Story With The Music'
NEW YORK — Jay-Z is a lot of things, from a gifted lyricist to a pre-eminent hit maker. But there's another title people should also be tossing around when it comes to President Carter, he says.
"I'm a master sequencer," he told MTV News. "I pride myself on that."
He's of course referring to the process of deciding the order in which songs appear on an album.
Jay has repeatedly explained that his current long player, American Gangster, consists of three distinct acts, like a play: the Genesis, the Rise and the Demise. But if you think that was just a philosophy he applied to that album only, you'll be surprised.
"I think my best job was Rihanna's album," Jay said of June's Good Girl Gone Bad, which he executive produced. "If you listen to [that], it's flawless as far as the sequencing.
"The album, you want it to have an arc," he continued, explaining his prowess. "You want it to have a beginning — Imma give this away so everyone can have great sequencing, because I wanna hear great sequenced albums as well. You want it to start, have a buildup. ... Any great story, regardless of what it is — whether it's music, movies, books, whatever — has these elements: It has a build; it builds up to something, a moment of tension or height. When it hits the height on [my] album, it's 'Roc Boys [(And the Winner Is ...)]' and 'Success.' It's that moment when everything is great, then it lets you down smooth. Hopefully the last song you have is something that people walk away with, and can't get it out of their mind."
As an executive producer and Def Jam president, Jay said he's had to send plenty of artists back to the studio if he felt pieces of the arc were missing on their albums.
"All the time," he said. "Every single artist. Every single one. I'm the 'One More Record Man.' If you ask anyone, that's what I'm known for.
"You try to tell a great story with the music," Jay added of how albums should be sequenced. "You don't want to be here and there, a fast-tempo [song] that has nothing to do with this record, you know? Once again, on Rihanna's album, 'Sell Me Candy' and 'Say It,' they both have this reggae sense, [so] they go together. When you listen to it, it's not abrupt. It's not this fast, loud dance song then it's a slow ballad, then it takes you back. It has a flow. [It's] almost like a DJ would do."