JAY-Z: I missed one of my aunts. I remember we had, like, one of those Christmas dinners that we have. Our family always eats together on
holidays. And she was like, “That was me.” I said the wrong aunt. [Laughs] So that’s my Aunt Niecy. [Laughs] Aunt Niecy was tight. It was so bare-bones. I was like, “Let’s hit the kitchen table—shit.” The kitchen table, that’s how I used to rap, when I used to write. When I was writing earlier, I wrote to the same beat, because I could play it and rap. I could do the two things, but I couldn’t do many beats. I only had one.
BINK: That was me beating on a piano stool, on that one part where he says, “Kitchen table, [that’s] where where I honed my skills.” I was
actually beating on a piano stool with the mic, to make it sound like it was a lunchroom table.
YOUNG GURU: Jay’s like an old-school hustler. He reminds me of my uncles or the old-school hustler guys on the block, where they didn’t
really want you to know their name. They’re not the type to be carrying the conversation in the room. They’re real quiet, to-themselves type of people. I always say to Jay, “The only way people really know you is through these records, and you’re not that introspective.” He’ll save it for the last song, like “You Must Love
Me,” “Momma Loves Me,” “Regrets.” The last song on most of his albums is this super-introspective, let-me-let-you-into-how-I-feel type of song.
JAY-Z: [In the end,] the listening sessions was getting bigger and bigger between us. Not the listening sessions for the industry, but playing it in the studio. It was getting bigger and bigger. People was coming back with their friends and shit, like, “Yo, you gotta hear this shit.” And it was so much energy in the studio that I was like, “Oh, this is special. This gon’ be really serious.”