Jay-Z: ‘Infidelity’ happened because I had ‘shut down all emotions’

Beyonce and Jay Z head to Radio City Music Hall for Solange's concert

Jay-Z is profiled in the new issue of the New York Times’ T Magazine. Because the New York Times is so fancy and above-it-all, they don’t really take the amazing opportunity to ask Jay-Z questions about the main focuses of gossip: when and where he was unfaithful, what Beyonce knew and when she knew it, whether he feels scared whenever he’s left alone with Solange. The bulk of the interview is about art, his 4:44 album (which just scored a lot of Grammy nominations) and what it’s like to go from the NYC projects to being one of the wealthiest and most well-connected men in the world. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

On getting into therapy, and infidelity: “You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode what happens? You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. In my case, like it’s, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: Infidelity.”

He’s known since he was a teenager that his mom is gay: “But we never spoke about it. Until like recently now we start having these beautiful conversations and just really getting to know each other. We were always good friends but now we’re really great friends.”

The sunset of his career: “I think rap in particular is a young man’s sport and I’ll move out of that white-hot space. Rap is about the gift discovery. The white-hot space is when it’s fresh and new, and it’s like the hottest song ever. I stretched it. Oh I stood in that window a really long time. But still, no, I don’t think people are looking to me as like, The Thing.”

Dealing with Beyonce’s Lemonade: “The best place in the, you know, hurricane is like in the middle of it … We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane. Uh, maybe not use hurricane because so many people are being affected right now. But the best place is right in the middle of the pain. And that’s where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. ou know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing. You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”

On Kanye West: He says that he and Kanye still talk, and “So I’ve always been like a big brother. And we’re both entertainers. It’s always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother. And we both love and respect each other’s art, too. So it’s like, we both – everyone wants to be the greatest in the world. You know what I’m saying? And then there’s like a lot of other factors that play in it. But it’s gonna, we gonna always be good.”

[From Rolling Stone]

So many men use their wives and daughters as human shields to deflect from criticism or to deny their own bad behavior. What struck me about Jay – and he’s been talking about this for a while – is that having a daughter really did change him in a profound way. Blue Ivy made him a better man, and it’s like there was a dividing line for him – he had been a toxic male, a cheater, an emotional abuser, and then he changed. He got therapy. He did the work. He truly worked on his marriage. He does the work every day to be a supportive husband, partner and father. I believe that (I’ll believe it until I don’t!).


Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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49 Responses to “Jay-Z: ‘Infidelity’ happened because I had ‘shut down all emotions’”

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  1. Sayrah says:

    I liked his words here. People can make hurtful mistakes but doing the work to fix what you broke is possible. And yes I speak from experience. Rooting for them to make it.

  2. ellieohara says:

    I dislike Jay-Z generally but I can’t fault him for this. He’s right. He came from a terrible home, dropped out of high school, father abandoned them, sold crack, was shot and shot other people. It’s honestly a form of classism to expect people to just “get over” things like this and go on to happy lives without doing a ton of work. I would not have married Jay-Z without extensive therapy in the first place and I think that if someone has a very difficult background, you have to expect that at some point, it will come out and you’ll both have to deal with it.

    I’m not really a fan of Beyonce either but they have children so good luck to them on the marriage.

  3. I says:

    Yeah okay. He’s cheated for years. There’s really no excuse.

    • A Croatian says:

      Thank you. Maybe he’s really changed, but that doesn’t erase or excuse his past behaviour.
      Surprised with the easy going -ness about it, tbh

      • milla says:

        Why is he talking about in public? Everyone knew but he didn’t cheat on me, but on his wife. That’s always the confusing part. Where famous ppl talk about their personal lives and then ask you to respect their privacy…

    • DiligentDiva says:

      THIS, it’s not like he just made one mistake. Jay-Z cheated for years, on someone who is considered the most beautiful woman in the world.
      I don’t have much sympathy for him. Beyonce should have left, but her mother put up with a similar situation for decades so it probably set a bad example for her. Ladies you do not have to put up with men’s infidelities.Trust me if it had been the other way around Jay-Z wouldn’t have stayed and forgiven her.

    • Artemis says:

      This this this.

      Black blogs and their comment sections have spilled the tea about his mistresses and their whereabouts (NYC for one) over and over again. At this point, him admitting it point blank is stale tea. He didn’t just start cheating recently, it’s been like that since day 1.

      I can’t remember which song and which lyric exactly but he admitted to feeling insecure about his looks because nobody was checking for his camel-looking ass. Add to that his vile personality which has been proven time and again to be about his ego and goals and there are no redeeming qualities about him. Then when he becomes famous and rich, he views women as commodities to demean and use as playthings as he wishes as a revenge for all the years they wouldn’t even glance at him. Dude is vile.

      What he shared about Beyoncé, himself and his marriage reveals a woman who stopped being naive about who he is but can’t leave him due to all the years and experiences they share together and a marriage that’s loving mostly from her side and emotionally bankrupt from his + it’s probably more business than love at this point. The fact that he only learned to appreciate BEYONCE once she birthed their child, is a summary of how he viewed her all this time prior. It was also obvious how he sung about her like she was a catch and nobody could have what he was having without actually giving her the respect she deserves because in private, he isn’t loyal to his top b-tch. A trophy wife with rising starpower that elevates HIM. It’s what she meant to HIM not who she was. God, I hope he publicly embarrasses Bey like her father did with her mother so she can finally get rid of this camel (because that’s clearly the only way she will leave him).

      • Carrie1 says:


      • Kitten says:

        Oh man…I’ve always liked him (mainly because I love his music and I find him intelligent and interesting) but admittedly, didn’t follow the gossip surrounding him too closely. I knew he cheated but most of everything else you say here is news to me. Time to rethink my stance on him I guess. Sigh.

      • Artemis says:

        Thing is, I don’t even follow his music career. But I was looking at some song of his thanks to black blogs/forums pointing them out and was like ‘damn’… And Genius also has annotations for the lyrics so they link to certain quotes/interviews and it all makes sense then. I never listened or downloaded any of his albums and I’m glad. I’ll keep bopping to B only!

        Jay’s skill is admitting passively that he’s flawed without expanding on it truthfully as to not damage his career. He admits them to the point he can make good money of them. Too many flaws and people will be turned off by him. Some of the stories I read have him arguing with a side piece. Dude acts like he’s deep but he’s a basic ass cheater in reality.

        But the good sis B didn’t just make Lemonade about 1 Becky. Becky is a concept that has been haunting their relationship for a long time but both aren’t willing to fully go there for obvious reasons. You can only sell your marriage to a certain point just like Taylor Swift can sell an idea of romance to a certain point. Like, the audience have eyes and ears, we ain’t stupid you know?

      • Sky says:


        👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Yes to everything you.

    • SKF says:

      Not only did he cheat but he abused his position for years to get sexual favours. I recall an infamous “video ho” years ago telling a story about working on a video clip with him. He asked her to take a ride in his car, They go for a short drive, he did not speak to her, he whipped out his dick, put a condom on it and puts his hand behind her head and pushes it into his lap. She may have been notorious for giving rappers and rock stars sexual favours but that still leaves me cold. It tells me a lot about how he sees many women as disposable and there to serve him. He was with Beyoncé at the time I believe.

  4. Lori says:

    Never heard Lemonade(dont want Tidal), but I love 4:44. He is very lucky to have a wife who could forgive that, and still believe she is loved. I know I couldn’t.

    • Loopy says:

      So where did you hearr 4:44..isnt it on tidal,plus Lemonade at this point is all over the net not just tidal.

  5. Annabelle Bronstein says:

    Alternate opinion: Jay got to have his cake and eat it too, all while Beyoncé was the ‘perfect’ partner. At least we got Lemonade from it 🍋

    • Ley says:

      His wife knew, chose to profit by making an album as did he. For a couple who say the value their privacy it’s funny that that value holds untrue when it comes to selling music and then not allowing anyone to question them. Just like her so called 1st pregnancy y,she hid all, belly for non existing baby but the twins? All she did was show us her ody. Why people choose to admire celebrities is beyond me.

  6. JA says:

    Eh. Men try to justify cheating all kinds of ways and maybe he’s telling the truth but I side eye the Hell out of their relationship. Beyonce should have packed his bags and kicked his a $$ out. Yes marriage can survive affairs but my belief is that marriage is based on trust, respect and love. When trust is gone it ALL crumbles. Jay Z and B are a corporation now so that’s what i see her decision as…a business one. I hope she’s getting some good on the side and that he knows it!!

    • Ley says:

      Notorious private till they need to sell an album. This excuse of him having a daughter is simply k, we all have known for years he has a son whose a teenager now living with his mom in Bermuda I believe, a former model. Every black mag reported it a decade ago. He wasn’t a 1 time cheater, he cheated from day 1, cause he raps a few sorry lines people fall on his band wagon? Personally this should have been between them but when 2 have an album to promote….I never liked him, sorry but misogynistic lyrics don’t appeal to me.

      • Sky says:

        I didn’t know about a son in Bermuda, I remember he had a son a little older then Blu in Barbados who’s mother died a day or two before Beyonce gave birth to Blu.

      • Ley says:

        Sky…I think it’s Trinidad but last year the unknown rapper filed a paternity suit and he settled out of court. So how do these kids feel when he weeps of joy of his 3 babies when he couldn’t care less about them.

  7. K says:

    Jay has cheated with so many women and for so long that I had to double-check that I hadn’t been with him. There really isn’t any excuse for that, bad childhood or not. Beyonce would be better off without him, it must be emotionally draining to deal with that constantly.

  8. MVC says:

    I don’t believe a word he said.
    I love Beyoncé but I think their marriage is some sort of bussiness than other thing.

    • minx says:

      Same. I think she wanted kids and he was successful enough that she knew he wouldn’t solely be after her money, so they married. I honestly think they both lead separate lives.

      • Artemis says:

        He wanted kids much more. He’s 11 years older than her and was nearing 40 when they married and still had to wait until his wife was good and ready, ha!

        They broke up briefly in 2006 because she was so career-minded. Jay was the babycrazy one and in half-retirement. I remember the 2 years before BIC when people were assuming B didn’t want to children/get pregnant out of vanity and because she didn’t want a break in her career. As she was nearing 30 and a married woman at that point and Jay wanting children, it was used to slight B (as usual) as if it was wrong to prioritise her career. Those rumours were rife and must have been hurtful considering her miscarriages! And this is also why the ‘fake pregnancy’ took off so much, it was just a continuation of what was said before.

  9. Nimbolicious says:

    I think infidelity happened because he’s a rich, powerful dick — like Harvey, Matt and Roger and Bill. I don’t buy the nonsense about “ shut down emotions.” It’s just a load of sensitivity-speak designed to make him look like he has one of those chips.

  10. Lucy says:

    “He does the work every day to be a supportive husband, partner and father. ” And not once did he have to use the “I have a female daughter who is a girl” card.

  11. Lotta says:

    I think it’s weird that he calls his and Kaney West’s work as art but when he refers to Beyonce’s work is just music.

  12. DiligentDiva says:

    God this situation hurts, Beyonce is A. so beautiful it hurts, B. Extremely successful, C. sang about all the great sex they had and D. married an ugly guy.
    There is no security to not get cheated on in this world. If Beyonce’s man cheated on her, I doubt few men in Hollywood (and probably everywhere) don’t cheat on their wives/girlfriends. The question is why do we put up with this? Men wouldn’t forgive us if we acted the way they did….

    • Fleurucci says:

      Yes , great points!!! this is sad. The other sad part about it (someone mentioned above) is that likely he would not stay if she cheated. Well I guess that’s speculation but it seems to me pretty possible that he’s not as forgiving 🙁

  13. Themummer says:

    The absolute first thing that I noticed about this is his use of the passive voice. He stated that infidelity was something that happened, not something that he did. Therefore he is not taking any responsibility.

    • Jayna says:

      Meh. He cheated a lot on her over the years, I imagine, because he was powerful and the women were available. Counseling is good for you and it sounds like he can get personal growth from it and be a better husband.

      But men can be very horny, visual beings, who are thinking below the belt, and can separate, compartmentalize having fun on the side with some hot girl they see and lust after, and having the little wife at home, and not feel guilty. Sometimes it’s just that basic, the thrill of f’cking someone other than their longtime wife, no matter how pretty, and why I put it in basic terms, because it is just that simple oftentimes.

  14. BorderMollie says:

    Never liked him, but I’ll give that his comments about his mother are nice. For the sake of the kids, I hope things work out peaceably.

  15. ang says:

    Seems like one of those relationships where Jay does whatever (whoever) he wants, whenever he wants with very little real consequence, while Bey sits there and goes, “…well, he’s complicated.” If Bey cheated on Jay as much as he has on her, there would be no way he’d put up with it. Why are women such doormats?

    I’d respect Jay more if he owned up to everything that he’s done and admitted that he’s a selfish bastard who doesn’t respect his wife or their marriage. That said, it’s more proof that most of the time kids will do what their parents do. Beyonce probably grew up in a home with infidelity on her dad’s side while her mom took it wordlessly. The cycle will just continue with J&B’s kids. It’s sad, really.

  16. Donna says:

    The Carter Household: “Okay, honey, I’ve made music about you cheating on me, and you’ve made music about your cheating. Our next tour together is a guaranteed sellout!”

  17. kay says:

    wow. that interview was really good. the man sees himself. a nice change from the empty and weightless interviews i have read of other men who claim to have changed themselves.

  18. Take a Gander says:

    I liked this interview as a whole. He sounds like he has grown as a person over the years, and that he and Beyonce are evolving together. The ideas he expresses are solid. I know they’ve had serious problems, but being a long-term couple in the music industry, the odds have been stacked against them (how many couples in the spotlight actually stay together?) Bey is beautiful and didn’t deserve his past behavior, but he sounds genuine to me here. This is one of those rare times where a person actually examines himself and admits wrongdoing (not just for image and damage control, but for personal growth!) and takes steps to change, so I’m not going to fault him for this.

  19. KLO says:

    Jay-Z is a dog.

    Sorry but Bey is setting a horrid example for her child.

    Blue already KNOWS Jay is no good. I can see it in her interactions with him. She has the exact same facial expressions and posture as me as a little girl when I hated my own dad for treating my mom like shit.

    I wish Beyonce realized what she is putting her children through by letting them see him disrespecting her like that. Blue KNOWS.

    • Sky says:

      I wish Beyonce realized what she is putting her children through by letting them see him disrespecting her like that.

      Beyonce father cheated on her mother multiple times and her mother stayed for years. Now Beyonce is repeating that same behavior and Blu is learning from that.

  20. Ozogirl says:

    Sounds like a bunch of excuses to me. You cheated, you lied, you knew it was wrong, you still kept doing it. I hope for Beyonce’s sake that he is wiser now, but you know the old saying…once a cheater…

  21. Hrvatima says:

    Sounds like a douchebag to me. Infidelity happens when you no longer respect your spouse, or maybe never did. You cheat just because you can. Cheating is a choice, not just an action. If you can be nonchalant about it, it shows you don’t care. His kids will read his words one day and realize daddy is a cheater.

  22. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Nothing but bloated lip service.

  23. benchwarmer says:

    I like when families stay together, especially when there’s kids. I think more often than not, kids want their parents to stay married, to stay an in-tact family unit. Marriages, especially celebrity marriages are so disposable. I’m proud of them for seeing it through. Really it’s about the kids in the end and I would think they want their Mommy and Daddy married. I applaud them for putting their children first, unlike so many other celebrities who give up.