Jay-Z Begins His Lecture Series At Columbia University In New York

Jay-Z‘s climb from the projects to the penthouses of American high society is already well-documented, but now it looks like hip-hop’s premiere business, man, is setting his sights on academia as well. On Tuesday, Jay kicked off his Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter Lecture Series at Columbia University in New York alongside journalism professor Jelani Cobb. The program is an initiative of the Ivy League’s AAADS (African American and African Diaspora Studies) Department and featured a live conversation between the rapper and the professor.

Over the course of the conversation, the rapper answered questions ranging from his career in music to his legacy as an artist and his endeavors in activism, business, and philanthropy. Jay noted the importance of the conversation by pointing out that open dialogue is needed to resolve the major issues of our time. “We can all dazzle each other with language,” he said. But we need to “get down to the honesty of what’s happening… These sort of conversations need to be had in a real way.”

Jay previously made this point in response to the criticism against him for dealing with the NFL in light of his previous support for Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and subsequent blackballing by the league. According to him, it’s more important that we find ways to move forward that to redress the wounds of the past.

Incidentally, Jay also came under fire from NFL supporters in the wake of the Super Bowl when they noted that he and Beyonce sat through the National Anthem. You can find out his explanation here.