In his discussion with New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet, the rapper spoke about how the painful subject of infidelity was addressed while the couple culled their respective albums, Jay-Z's 4:44 and Beyoncé's Lemonade. "We were using our art almost like a therapy session," Jay-Z explained. "And we started making music together.
"And then the music she was making at the time was further along," he continued. "So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on."
Working on their collaborative album led to 4:44. "There was never a point where I was like 'I'm making this album.' It was right there the entire time," he said. He added that there is still a lot of music left from their joint effort.
The rapper said that he and Beyoncé's reaction to each other's work was "very, very uncomfortable," likening it to a hurricane. "But the best place is right in the middle of the pain," he added.
At the time, Jay-Z said they had many conversations and he added that he was "really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released," he said. "And, you know, at the end of the day we 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 50 percent or something 'cause most people can't see themselves," Jay-Z said. "The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone's face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself."
In the interview, which also ranged in topics from race to politics, Jay-Z also discussed other relationships, including becoming closer with his mother following her coming out on his song "Smile" and his apparent strained relationship with Kanye West. Jay-Z said that he and West still speak, in fact he said he talked to him "just the other day." The rapper admitted there has been recent tension and their relationship is complicated, with West having come into the business on Jay-Z's label.
"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," he explained. "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."