Hearts were all a flutter when Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z made an unexpected appearance in the Brooklyn rapper's old Marcy Projects neighborhood in August, but it turns out that the pair were on site to conduct some business for the October issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. While Hov took the time to give the famed talk show host a tour of his old haunts, he opened up about his life prior to rap superstardom, detailing his mishaps as a young drug dealer and sharing, for the first time, his escape from a near-death experience.
In response to Oprah's confusion about why he initially chose a path of crime, Jay explained that the lack of role models in his neighborhood didn't make it easy for kids to amount to much. "There wasn't a teacher or a lawyer or a nurse or a doctor or an accountant in the neighborhood?" she asked. "Well, we were living in Marcy by then, so, no," Jay said. "And if anyone did become something like that, they moved out. They never came back to share the wisdom of how they made it. If anyone made it, you never knew it. That's why I've always said that if I become successful, I'd come back here, grab somebody, and show him how it can be done."
Though Jay has alluded to his brushes with violence in songs like "Dead Presidents II," from his 1996 debut album 'Reasonable Doubt,' the interview marked the first time that he opened up about escaping a shoot-out when he was younger. When asked how he lived to tell about it, Jay credited luck and help from a higher power. "Well, no one really practices shooting a TEC-9 machine gun, right? And when you're a kid, with little bony arms -- no wonder nobody could aim," he said. "That was divine intervention. Divine intervention, and nobody knowing how to shoot."
In light of his overwhelming success, Jay acknowledged his blessing of making it out of the projects unscathed. "There's the gift, there's the spirit and there's the work -- all three have to come together," he said. "If one of those things is off, it can stop you from becoming who you were meant to be." After tackling the heavy fare, Jay hesitantly answered some questions about his marriage to Beyonce, admitting that their 2008 wedding was so secretive, that even some close friends were left in the dark. "The sad part is that we offended some," he said. "But people who love you understand. Because at the end of the day, it's your day."