Iconic rapper, Jay-Z, and equally iconic public intellectual, Cornel West, were joined in conversation on Monday, November 15 for the “LIVE from the NYPL” series at New York Public Library.

Fans lined the entrance beginning as early as noon to see Jay-Z speak with Dr. West about his new book Decoded, co-penned by acclaimed writer Dream Hampton.

Jay-Z sat longtime actor and activist Harry Belafonte in the front row at the widely attended event. During his discussion with West, Jay-Z said Oprah inspired his book. “Oprah was a big reason I wrote this book. We had conversations about language and the n-word, and while we didn’t agree, we left that conversation with a better understanding.”

The “Empire State of Mind” emcee says he wants to encourage young artists. “I want to encourage young artists not to be afraid to use their voices. I’m trying to expand the genre of hip hop and keep it truthful. You have to question everything about life.

Jay-Z also indirectly addressed the devil-worshiping rumors, mentioning that he believes in God. “I believe in God and for me, different religions are all praying to the same God.”

Decoded is in stores today!

Check out the complete video of “Jay-Z in Conversation with Cornel West!”

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