photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Roc Nation
Jay Z looking at his ‘Book of HOV’ exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library, which spans his entire career.
Christopher Booker, of PBS NewsHour sat down with Desiree Perez, CEO of Roc Nation, Linda E. Johnson, President of the Brooklyn Public Library, and Independent Hip Hop Artist, Kota the Friend, to get their perspective on Jay Z’s ‘Book of HOV’ exhibit, and Jay Z’s influence on the music industry.
Johnson stated, “This is a career that was built on the written word. Literacy is everything to us. Jay-Z is a very important Brooklynite, and we like to honor our own, and we’re proud to be affiliated with him.”
The Roc Nation team had been looking for a place to hold this sort of exhibit, but Perez stated, “nothing ever felt right. It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like it belonged. And when I heard Linda speak, it just seemed like the perfect place that she was describing. And it’s a public space and it lends itself to everyone.”
Kota the Friend, who was born and raised just blocks from Jay Z stated, “the first beat that I ever rapped over was a Jay-Z beat. He gave me the template, and I just put in my words. And that’s — that was the beginning of it.”
Kota the Friend turned down record labels to stay independent. He keeps all the profit from the millions who stream his music each month. He also owns a fashion and entertainment brand.
Booker asked Kota, “do you think that was possible or was that even a path that you saw without Jay-Z?” Kota’s answer sums it all up, “I think Jay-Z really gave us confidence, you know? Like, it wasn’t a big thing when he was coming up for people, for artists, especially hip-hop artists, to be independent and be doing their own thing. Because he exists, we all exist.”