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Jay-Z: 'Decoded' (2010)

Jay-Z: Decoded (2010)
Jason Squires/WireImage; Courtesy of Spiegel & Grau/Random House

If you're curious about what it's really like to be Shawn Carter, you'll learn more about his hard knock life from his albums, which have always gone heavy on the In My Lifetime narrative. But what he's really trying to do here is write the whole story of hip-hop, merely using himself as a prime example, as he rises from criminal-minded fan to aspiring rapper to industry mogul. Most surprising moment: Hov defends "Beach Chair" as "one of the hidden jewels of my catalog."

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