Widely known and accepted as fact, though neither he nor his wife had ever explicitly discussed it, both addressed their marriage troubles through their art. Beyonce struck first, with her groundbreaking 2016 album "Lemonade," followed by Jay-Z's recent effort "4:44." According to Jay-Z, though, they initially had plans to release a double album.
"We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together," Jay-Z said. "The music she was making at that time was further along. So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on."
He talked a lot about therapy, and how it helped him to understand why he was making the mistakes he was in his marriage. He sees it as a remnant of the "survival mode" he learned about growing up hard in New York. "You compartmentalize, right? So you can be, you can be inside your body and be happy, but at the core of it, something else is going on," he said.
He equated that mentality to tough kids on the street who are always itching for a fight, calling out, "What you looking at? Why you looking at me?" The rapper said that through therapy he learned that this was a defense mechanism, that these kids were in pain and that's what they think you're seeing. He learned to bury his pain, causing him to shut down emotionally. It was while talking about this that Jay-Z brought up infidelity. "So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect.
He's since learned that this isn't strength, though. It's not being a man. "The strongest thing a man can do is cry," he said. "To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world. That's real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That's not real. It's fake."
The creative process of these two albums, while difficult, was the best way for Jay-Z and Beyonce to deal with their issues. "We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane ... in the middle of the pain," he said. "And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations."
In the end, though, the couple praised one another as artists and offered their support.
"You know, most people walk away, and [the] divorce rate is like 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."
Beyonce received nine Grammy award nominations for "Lemonade" in 2017, taking home two, while also receiving massive critical acclaim. One year later, Jay-Z leads all nominees for the 2018 Grammys with eight nods, including album of the year, for his equally acclaimed record "4:44."