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The 21-time Grammy winner’s relationship with wife Beyoncé has never been off-limits when it comes to their music, but the megastar couple is notoriously private with the media. So even though Lemonade referenced “Becky with the good hair” in 2016, and that security camera filmed Solange in the elevator way back in 2014, it wasn’t until a sit-down with the Times‘ Dean Baquet Wednesday that the rapper really opened up about what all the allusions to cheating and infidelity in his wife’s work meant.
Jay not only admitted to “infidelity,” he revealed that a stint in therapy helped him understand his own behavior. He says talking to a doctor helped him realize he had shut down all his “emotion,” which is what ultimately led to his decision to cheat.
“You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode, what happens? You shut down all emotion,” he said. “So, even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. … In my case, like, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity.”
He says growing up trying to be a macho guy all the time had left him ill-equipped for the more complex parts of his marriage. Ironically, the same persona that shot him to huge success in his career ended up being what stunted his happiness at home.
“There was a lot of fights in our neighborhood [growing up] that started with ‘What you looking at? Why you looking at me? You looking at me?’ And then you realize: ‘Oh, you think I see you. You’re in this space where you’re hurting, and you think I see you, so you don’t want me to look at you. And you don’t want me to see you.’ … You don’t want me to see your pain. You don’t… So you put on this shell of this tough person that’s really willing to fight me and possibly kill me ’cause I looked at you. You know what I’m saying, like, so… Knowing that and understanding that changes life completely.”
He also revealed that he and Beyoncé had been working on a joint album as a way to repair their relationship, and the music may still be released. “We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together,” he said. “And then the music she was making at that time was further along. So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music.”
Something tells us “Drunk in Love II” would be a hit.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.