A while back I did an interview with the band N*E*R*D. Now, Pharrell Williams and his crew have been interviewed hundreds of times so I was quite surprised when he commented, “This is one of the most impressive interviews I've ever experienced in my life. Seriously. “

After the interview I asked Pharrell if he could hook me up with Jay-Z, because Jay-Z and N*E*R*D were going to be playing the upcoming Pemberton Music Festival in Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada. Pharrell agreed, but in the months following I didn’t get any indictation that the interview with Jay Z would ever happen. In other words, I had totally lost hope. That was until the morning of the day of gig, when I got an email that Pharrell would hook me up. Suddenly scrambling into action, I then got in my car and drove 6 hrs to the Pemberton Festival . ( The drive usually takes 2 hours, however heavy traffic really slowed things down! ) Upon arrival, Sean Lala from Spectrum Events guided me backstage to look for Pharrell. N*E*R*D had played earlier however Pharrell was nowhere to be found. Luckily, Shay from N*E*R*D was kind enough to call Pharrell up on his iphone. Pharrell then emailed Jay-Z, called Jay-Z and sent Jay-Z a text message and Jay-Z agreed to do an interview with me. The first thing Jay-Z said to me was that Pharrell had been calling him all day, asking him to do an interview with me. Amazing…

Jay-Z: Yeah, Pharrell says you come highly recommended.

Nardwuar: Well, it's an honour to speak to you.

Jay-Z: He called me a hundred times.

Nardwuar: Well, sorry about that.

Jay-Z: I never understood. I really didn’t understand it at first. It was like, you're calling me to do an interview? What the fuck does that mean? [laughs] What does that mean? He just said that your knowledge is extensive and he knows that I appreciate people that, no matter what you do, whether you paint art, or you make records, or you do interviews, or you're a writer, if you're truly good at your craft, he knows I'm excited by that type of shit. He wanted me to meet you, so here we are. So don't disappoint him.

Nardwuar: Who are you?

Jay-Z: Who am I ? I'm a young man from the Marcy Projects who really made that thing that they say "The American Dream" come true. Because I'm not supposed to be here speaking to you. You know, there's a lot of people who come from where I come from, there are a lot of skilled people who were I come from, who are not here right now.

Nardwuar: You are Jay-Z.

Jay-Z: Oh, I thought you meant, like “Who am I?” . I thought it was a deeper question. My name is Jay-Z, yes. [laughs]

Nardwuar: Jay-Z, welcome to the Pemberton Festival.

Jay-Z: Thank you.

Nardwuar: Right off the bat, going back to the early days of Jay-Z, what can you tell us about Jaz, and the early appearance of a young Jay-Z right there. [Nardwuar pulls out a Jaz Record “Word to the Jaz”]

Jay-Z: To be very honest with you, if you look , this is not your typical rapper right here. This is not even my album, this is actually Jaz's album. [Pointing to the jewelry he and Jaz and wearing] But if you look on the back of this thing, the cable rope and the four finger ring, that cable was mine. That cobra was a friend of mine, that was mine, that was mine. This anchor was mine. All that was my jewelry because I was a street guy. So you never come into a game and already have all this type of things. So I was an artist who come highly recommended from the street, a real guy from the street.

Nardwuar: Is that your stuff on the front of LP, too Jay, with the panther? That's amazing.

Jay-Z: No, that's Jaz. That's not mine. But that piece, If you look at it, that piece that is on me , if you look at it, is the piece that is on him in the front of the LP.

Nardwuar: Was that your first appearance on wax, Jay-Z?

Jay-Z: No, actually my first appearance on wax was a song called "H.P. Gets Busy" by High Potent MCs. It was, like, me Jaz and two other guys from Mossy Projects.

Nardwuar: Jay-Z, I have a gift for you. [Nardwuar hands Jay-Z a cool hand drawn poster called “The History of Rap” ] This poster right here, done by Kagan McLeod, a Canadian, featuring...

Jay-Z: I've never seen this shit in my life. What is this?

Nardwuar: And you are represented on here. Can you find yourself, Jay-Z?

Jay-Z: Right there, right there. Yeah, I know who I am. Right next to Akinyele and Xzibit.

Nardwuar: What do you think of this poster that's repping all the favourites hip hoppers of Kagan McLeod? This is a Canadian gift for you.

Jay-Z: Can I have it?

Nardwuar: Yeah, this is for you.

Jay-Z: Oh, fuck.

Nardwuar: And look at it on the back. It gives a little description of everybody. What do you think of the people you've been grouped with here?

Jay-Z: Oh, anybody I've been grouped with... excuse me [Jay takes the cigar he has been smoking out of his mouth] I'm a supporter of hip-hop, so ,you know, I support all these people. That's great. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Nardwuar: Jay-Z, when I interviewed ?uestlove of The Roots, he told me that for you to memorize something, you had to do it 18 times?

Jay-Z: Well, yeah. Maybe, yeah. Repetition. You know, repetition. Basketball players, that's why they practice every day. They've been playing their whole life but they practice every day because of repetition.

[Excerpt from Nardwuar’s Interview with ?uestlove ]

?uestlove: The coolest thing about Jay-Z is that a) he's not lazy... hey, that rhymes, that's crazy...ba-boomp-pa -- no, he's not lazy. And I told him, 'If you want to know all these songs, studies say that if you repeat anything 18 times in a row it will instantly get committed to memory." So at first he was like, "Aw man, I’ll just do it like six times or whatever.” No. But then he would forget and I said, "Look dude, if you do it 18 times in a row and we'll be straight." So we did a little schedule for like nine days before, four songs a day, you know, three hour rehearsal, take a break, three hour rehearsal, take a break, and that's how he committed it to memory.

Nardwuar: Is that the magic number? Eighteen?

Jay-Z: Well, yeah, I don't know if 18's the number. But you know [laughs].

Nardwuar: How about 99? Is that the magic number, Jay-Z?

Jay-Z: Well, 99 problems you know, that's pretty much.

Nardwuar: And that’s what I was wondering Jay-Z, did that song originally come from Brother Marquis or Ice-T, Jay-Z?

Jay-Z: Yeah, actually, was it Marquis or Ice-T? I thought it was Ice-T. Yeah.

Nardwuar: So Ice-T and Brother Marquis helped with the "99 Problems"?

Jay-Z: Well, they invented it, you know. I just followed tradition.

[Excerpt from Nardwuar’s Interview with Ice T ]

Nardwuar: Ice-T, one other thing I was wondering about was "99 Problems." What's the history of that song? It's your song. Jay-Z took it, and now apparently there's some links to 2 Live Crew?

Ice T: What happened was, the true story is Brother Marquis made that comment one time, I was with him. And he was like you know "I got 99 problems and a bitch ain't one." So I thought we can make a record off of that, so we call Marquis up and flew him out to L.A. Me and him did the record together, paid him and everything was cool and that was that. Years later, Jay-Z hears the record from Rick Rubin and decides he wants to remake it, remakes the hook and does it. Then, Marquis comes back and hears Jay-Z did it and decides he wants more money, but all the money was already paid out. I didn't get any money from it because I had a publishing deal at the time. So he decides he wants to sue me and all kinds of nasty stuff which friends shouldn't do to each other, but that's the true story. Nothing's happened since then. You know, it's kinda water under the bridge, you know, but the first "99 Problems" was done by myself and Brother Marquis from 2 Live Crew.

Nardwuar: Lastly here, Jay-Z, here we are at the Pemberton Festival. At the Glastonbury Festival you covered some Oasis?

Jay-Z: Yeah.

Nardwuar: Are you going to cover any Canadian classics? Are you down with the Canadian classics?

Jay-Z: Well, you know, I didn't really have any problems with the Canadians. The Glastonbury thing, it was this great thing because... it wasn't really a backlash, it was just a couple people stating their opinion of who they thought should play Glastonbury and Noel (Gallagher) was actually vocal about it. So it just happened.

Nardwuar: Do you have any Canadian classics, like Maestro Fresh-Wes, Kardinal? Any covers you can do? Any Canadian songs?

Jay-Z: No, I'm just going to do my set, go out and have fun.

Nardwuar: Well, thanks for the time, Jay-Z. Anything else you want to add to the people out there at all?

Jay-Z: You know, we appreciate being here, you know, and we love the opportunity. And if you guys could help out — like the whole Canadian culture — tell the guys at customs to ease up a little bit. Seriously.

Nardwuar: Well, thanks so much, Jay-Z. Keep on rockin' in the free world and doot doola doot doo...

Jay-Z: Yeah

Nardwuar: Almost, Jay-Z.

Jay-Z: [laughs]

Nardwuar: Doot doola doot doo...

Jay-Z: Yeah, yeah.

( Thanks to Sean Lala from Spectrum Events , Mitch Clem for the Jay-Z drawing , David Kines for some Jay-Z pics, and of course, Pharrell Williams, for making this whole interview possible! )