Jay-Z helped Oprah Winfrey launch her network by teaching viewers a few of his life lessons.
When the Oprah Winfrey Network launched on January 1, Hov was front and center in the programming. He was the first subject of “Oprah Presents Masterclass,” which gives viewers a very personal look at his path of success.
“His material success isn’t the most impressive thing about him,” Oprah said after rattling off a list of Jay’s achievements, including his staggering $150 milllon net worth, despite his disadvantaged beginnings. “I believe he was able to transcend his environment.”
The first lesson from Jay is that “excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again.” He goes into more detail about the other elements of excellence in the video below.
A long, successful career doesn’t come without its failures, but that’s never bothered Jay-Z. “I’ve learned more from failures than success, and it can be paralyzing to some,” he said.
For example, he mentioned that while his first debut album, Reasonable Doubt, was critically acclaimed as the voice of a generation, it didn’t do so well in terms of sales. Find out how he bounced back in the second part of “Masterclass.”
Once Jay had the blueprint for success down, his message could reach more people than ever before. Over time, he developed his craft to do more than just make people dance or provide some brief distraction. As Oprah sees it, he created audible art.
“Hip-hop, like all art holds up a mirror to society and shows us who we are,” Oprah said while acknowledging that Hov’s music is the voice for a lot of people who may not otherwise be heard. “It doesn’t matter whether I agree or you agree with every message, it reflects what many people are thinking and feeling.”
Jay-Z’s own feelings about hip-hop are very strong. In his opinion, the music that was born on the streets has grown up to change the world.
“I think that hip-hop has done more for racial relations than most cultural icons—save Martin Luther King,” Jay said. “But the impact of this music didn’t only influence kids from urban areas, it influenced people all around the world.”
To find out how Jay feels hip-hop has brought more people together, check out the final segment of “Masterclass” below.
Jay-Z was simply the first subject of Oprah’s profile series. Future episodes of “Oprah Presents Masterclass” will feature Condoleezza Rice, Maya Angelou, Sidney Poitier and Simon Cowell.
— Sonya Eskridge