The following quotes from JAY-Z had been edited for brevity.
My whole thing is to have confidence in yourself. If you’re going to take a chance on anything, you’ve gotta take a chance on yourself. Have that confidence to take a chance, and not be afraid to fail. I personally don’t believe anybody could have stopped me. That’s just how I believe. I was coming; I was destined to be here. A lot of people will put their fears on you. Always believe you’re great, even before anybody else believes it. No matter where you are; there you are. The genius thing that we did was we didn’t give up. You’re doing all of this for a reason. If you want different, you’ve gotta act different.
Don’t ever go with the flow, be the flow. Whatever you do in life, people are going to judge you. Everything is inspiration. Everybody is inspired by someone. I’m a person that believes that everything that happened to you in life happens to shape you as a person. It may not work today and it may not work tomorrow, but this is the right thing and this is what I’m doing. I’m not going to let anybody speed up my process. I don’t care what’s happening out there. That’s the great thing about having ultimate confidence. I don’t have anything to prove; I know who I am. I am a self-aware person. What’s the sense in being successful if you still can’t be yourself? Most important thing I got is everything is connected. Every emotion is connected and it comes from somewhere. Being aware of it in everyday life puts you at such an advantage.
You have to develop. Don’t listen to anyone; everyone is scared. A lot of people will try and put their fears on you. Have such a strong belief in yourself that you can quiet out all the outside noise. Every human being has genius-level talent. You have to find what it is that you’re great at and then tap into it. No one cares whether you live or die and that’s where that mentality grows from. I’m going to get it or die trying. If I don’t try, what kind of life am I saving? I’ve learned more from failure than success. It can be paralyzing to have fear of failure. When you’re self-aware, even when you’re dealing with someone’s ego, you allow their ego to live in its own space. The problem is when you engage that energy. If you engage the ego with your ego. Then it can escalate to a level that is irreversible.
My music is based on life and the things I’ve experienced. Everything is inspiration. This is who I am, this is what I do, and then they jump on this next hot thing and it’s not for you. For me, just having discipline, and having the confidence in who I am and if I go into a studio and if I find my truth of the moment, there are a number of people in the world that can relate to what I am saying and is gonna buy into what I’m doing. Not because it’s the new thing of the moment but because it’s my genuine emotions. Only two things will get you through this, man. That’s patience and persistence.
My first album came out when I was 26. I had seen so many things on the streets. My attitude was that I seen so much, that I have nothing to prove. I became self-aware. I wanted full control over my music. I own everything. Try to own as much of yourself as possible, because it’s gonna pay off in the long run.
I’m really connected to the people. I really feed off the energy of people. I love what I do, and if you love what you do, you want to be the best at it. You don’t make music to be second best. You make music to be the best / It felt like I had a bigger responsibility for the culture and to show it in a different light. The truth is, it’s my passion; It’s what I love to do. Make music and perform, and travel. So it’s who I am. It’s not even a choice for me. It’s just who I am. It’s always good to compare yourself to people you look up to, because you give yourself a high goal.
I used to write when I was young. I would write for hours and hours on end. That stream of conscious comes with you all the time. Whether you’re at the table or not. So as I start moving into the streets, I start coming further and further away from my notebook. So I would memorize these words. Then I would have to run to the house and write them down. When you do that you work up your memory.
Belief in oneself and knowing who you are, that’s the foundation of everything great. You gotta be able to compete, still sharp and still, you gotta get out there and you gotta earn your spot. It’s not given. I learned that if I was going to be successful then I had to be successful at myself. I couldn’t be successful doing what other people were doing; I had to do what I believed in and what felt real to me and felt true to me.
I love that thing of collaborating and you’re taking the best of what you do and someone taking the best of what you do and you not robbing from what they do and they not robbing from what you do and y’all bring the best of what you are to the table and you put it in this mix and you see what happens. You know I love that part of creating. I can’t explain it to y’all, man it just comes out bare for me. I just start mumbling, they say you put the right artist with the right track in the studio, leave the door cracked and let God in.