Hot off the success of his 4:44 album, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z revealed in a new video that his high-profile marriage to Beyoncé wasn’t exactly built on solid foundation. And so, the superstar couple had to rebuild the relationship essentially on steady ground.
“This is my real life. I just ran into this place and we built this big, beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn’t totally built on the 100 percent truth, and then it starts cracking,” he shared in his side commentary. “Things start happening that the public can see.” (Without directly mentioning specifics, the 21-time Grammy winner likely was alluding to the 2014 Met Gala elevator incident involving his sister-in-law Solange.)
The footage in “Footnotes for the Story of O.J.” includes interviews with a slew of famous faces—Will Smith, Jesse Williams, Chris Rock, Mahershala Ali, and more—and touches on what happens when relationships are faced with such adversity and conflict.
For the couple, the disintegration of their marriage was particularly glaring at one specific moment: When Jay-Z begged Beyonce to stay during a trip. “I was on a boat, and I had the best time. I was like, ‘Man, this is great.’ Then she had to leave,” the entrepreneur recalled. “I was, like, crushed. I was like, ‘Man, I don’t even feel like this. What is happening to my body right now?’ I was like, ‘Don’t go.’ I was like, ‘Did I just say… all this is new for me. Don’t leave.”
The solution was ultimately starting over. “We had to get to a point of ‘Okay, tear this down and let’s start from the beginning.’ It’s hard,” Jay-Z revealed. “Remember we just talked about me. I’m from Marcy Projects. I’ve been shot at, but nothing is harder than this. By far. I’m telling you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Most humans, us, you know what I mean? We’re not willing to put ourselves through that. Most people give up.”
The rapper said he wanted Beyoncé to hear his full album, knowing that his heart was entirely on his sleeve. “We just got to a place where in order for this to work, this can’t be fake,” he said. “Not one ounce. I’m not saying it wasn’t uncomfortable because obviously it was. But because we’ve been doing this for so long, it was less uncomfortable.”
The couple started dating in 2002, before Jay-Z proposed in 2007. They married in their New York City apartment in April 2008, and now share their lives with their daughter, Blue, and newborn twins.