Customer Reviews for

Decoded

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

A New look on Jay-Z' life

I Pre-ordered it in September, Just got it last night. It is very interesting the way it's set up, a hybrid between memoirs and an autobiography it definatley was original in not only design but as an entirety. This book might mean more to somone like myself who has bee...
I Pre-ordered it in September, Just got it last night. It is very interesting the way it's set up, a hybrid between memoirs and an autobiography it definatley was original in not only design but as an entirety. This book might mean more to somone like myself who has been a fan since a kid of Jay-Z. Since Elementary school, through junior high and senior high school ive always bought his albums, and downloaded his music. I never thought he would come out with a book but now that he has i think my respect grew a little more. I believe you dont have to be from Brooklyn to get inspired by Jay-z' story and success, for me a kid who grew up outside of Philly and Baltimore his advice can help out a lot of teens anywhere. Even if you have not even heard of Him, his story is worth getting to know.

posted by Paramedic92 on November 17, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

More expensive than hardcover?

im having a hard time understanding how a hardcover book costs more than digital. random house needs to stop trying to fleece loyal customers.

posted by appeal2u on November 16, 2010

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    The Life and Times of Shawn Carter

    Through the early chapters of 'Decoded,' I was dogged by a sense of dissonance. Apart from the lyrical transcripts, the voice of Jay-Z, the persona, scarcely appeared. It's an unmistakable voice, recognizable by its bravado, its misogyny, its unabashed prioritizing of the self. Here, instead, I heard a narrative voice humming with graciousness, sharpening on occasion but tending toward softer, more elegant rhythms and tones. Was this disembodiment the work of a ghost? I presume that, for a man whose trade demands mastery of language, pride would not allow it. I wondered, more plausibly, if Jay-Z had dissembled so as to please a literary crowd that's leery of the method and message of contemporary hip-hop. After all, in this very book, he contends that every emcee is part trickster and that art "elevates and refines and transforms," but "sometimes it just fu*** with you for the fun of it." As 'Decoded' wound on, the steady stream of humble prose, despite being uncharacteristic, eventually compelled me to dispatch my suspicions. It felt too honest to be artifice. Confronted with the contradictory personalities of Jay-Z and Shawn Carter, I realized I needn't embrace one and decry the other. Both could be genuine. The rapper persona is a paradoxical being - a character that lets the artist dissociate into a fictional form, yet, in so doing, provides heightened means for genuine expression. This is not a book, however, that's primarily concerned with its creator or his alter ego; the prevailing authorial desire in "Decoded" is outward-oriented: to advocate for hip-hop as a legitimate art form. He does this by analyzing bars and verses - a sometimes tedious, sometimes illuminating undertaking. He does it through an audacious-but-successful likening of braggadocio rap tracks to Shakespeare sonnets. And he does it through deft navigation of the social and political aspects of the African-American ghetto experience, thus providing a vivid context for the rise of hip-hop. In a particularly incisive passage, he writes, "We came out of the generation of black people who finally got the point: No one's going to help us. So we went for self, for family, for block, for crew - which sounds selfish; it's one of the criticisms hustlers and rappers both get, that we're hypercapitalists concerned only with the bottom line and enriching ourselves. But it's just a rational response to the reality we faced." These cultural observations, while mostly fascinating and artful, substitute for deeper probing into the author's life. For instance, Carter discusses ghetto violence, but sanitizes his own experiences. He examines Darwinian competition in rap culture, but avoids comments on his own battles with fellow rappers. In this sense, the book does not satisfy the taste for autobiography that it activates. Still, focusing on what is included, "Decoded" is a refreshing book. Thoughtfully constructed, it has emotional and intellectual heft. Varied in form, with text/lyrics/footnotes/graphics, it's an expedited read. Because of its author's renown and the inclusivity of the subject matter, it also has broad appeal. Carter proposes that great characters compel the audience to feel connected to their motivations and actions, as if they own them. The dissonance between Carter and Jay-Z, the person and the persona, is striking but, for this reason, not absolute. Both perceive and evoke their reality with acuity, allowing us to hear our voices in theirs.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2013

    Decoded is a great first person view of hip hop music itself. Ja

    Decoded is a great first person view of hip hop music itself. Jay-Z portrays the struggle as something
    everyone can relate to. Even though rap music as a whole is very provocative, the message is not, and 
    is simple enough to be applicable to everyday life. Easily a top recommendation because of a more in
    depth look of HIp-Hop and the artist himself. I especially became accustomed to Jay-Z's simple writing
    style and the contrast from his music and his book. The only drawback from this is sometime in some
    stories Jay makes some leaps that are hard for the reader to make connections, but the gaps aren't too
    prevalent, so it doesn't affect the overall piece. Overall a very good novel, and an easy read over vacation. It should not be made into a movie though, it would be too long or too hard to follow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Very enjoyable

    Easy and enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Good job

    This is a good book to have on my shelf. I read it now and then, but it's more insight for someone who didn't grow up in New York nor knew hustlers and really know hip hop. It is very nostalgic and I love Jay-Z, so very worth it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Smart and Inspiring

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted May 5, 2011

    Music Has True Meaning

    This story is aout Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), who grew up in the streets of Brooklin, NY. He goes through stories in his life where he was a hustler sellig drugs, but on the side and in his free time, was making raps and rhymes. What regular people don't realize is the "jammin'" music we listen to today written by Jay-Z is actually true words about the life he had growing up. I like how Jay-Z goes through his life story and explains how he became famous, but also, what his song lyrics mean and what they have to do with his own personal experiences. The major messages of this story are; e thankful for the life God has given you. Another is to keep your head held high during the bad times in your life and follow your dreams because they might come true. This book goes ito some grapic detail about drugs and killings. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone under the age of 13. However, this would be a great book for teenagers so they can fully understand what rap music is all about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    Aesthetic

    This is 1 of the greatest artistic memoirs I've read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2011

    awesome

    great book

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  • Posted March 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Jay-Z Can Do No Wrong!

    I really enjoyed this book. It's very descriptive and give you an inside look into one of Hip-Hops Greatest MCs. If you think you know all about Hip-Hop you can't know it all until you pick up this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    Jay Z never disappoints his fans!

    I enjoyed this book which is a combination of his life story, life lessons, struggles, success and rap lyrics. You get to see Jay Z as a regular person not as the rap superstar. I grew up in the same area during the same time as Jay Z so it bought back sweet memories of the hood. Highly recommend!

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!

    I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Jay-Z wrote a book and knew instantly that I would be buy it. I have been a fan of his from the beginning. I grew up in the same city at the same time and he took me back with this book! WAAAAAAAY BACK! Reading the book brought back a lot of memories. I enjoyed reading it and getting a different perspective of the goings on at that time. He wrote about a lot of things and left some things out that fans like me would like to know. Maybe the next book will cover it. THANKS for the trip JAY. I bought Decoded for my nookbook and was happy to have the links, in the lyrics of his songs, that allowed me to read notes from Jay about the lyrics. This is a great book especially if you were present at the birth of the hip hop movement or would like to know more about it.

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    understanding art

    this is def a good book to understand the art of rap..

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    Posted January 15, 2011

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    Posted November 12, 2010

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