In Jay-Z and Beyoncé's world, not everything is as it seems.
Of course, this came to light thanks to 2016's Lemonade and again in the rapper's latest studio album, 4:44, which documents the A-list couple's marital troubles (including infidelity accusations, raising children and more) in great detail. After tackling race issues in the U.S. for his Footnotes for "The Story of O.J." mini-documentary, Jay-Z released yet another personal piece pegged to the album's title track.
Released by Tidal on Monday, the father of three is joined by celebrities including Chris Rock, Jesse Williams, Will Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Anderson, Aziz Ansari and more for a candid discussion on relationships, love and the pressure that comes with dating in the public eye.
Reflecting on his nearly decade-long marriage to Bey, Jay-Z shared, "This is my real life. I just ran into this place and we built this big, beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn't totally built on the 100 percent truth and it starts cracking."
"Things start happening that the public can see," he recalled. "Then we had to get to a point of ‘OK, tear this down and let's start from the beginning.' It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
A possible catalyst for Jay-Z and Beyoncé to re-evaluate their marriage, among other widely-speculated issues? His infamous elevator fight with Solange Knowles following the 2014 Met Gala, which prompted the famous family to release a rare statement pulling the curtain back on their private affairs.
The 21-time Grammy winner also shared an anecdote from a time he swallowed his pride and begged Beyoncé to stay by his side after feeling a new kind of emotion for the pop star.
"I was on a boat, and I had the best time," Jay described without mentioning Bey's name. "I was like, ‘Man, this is great.' Then she had to leave. I was, like, crushed. ‘Man, I don't even feel like this. What is happening to my body right now?' I don't even feel like this. Did I just say, 'Don't leave?'"
Jay-Z also said he came to the realization that honesty was critical for the survival of their marriage. So much honesty, he admitted, that Beyoncé listened to the entire album long before its release.
He explained, "We've been in that space where we just got to the place that in order for this to work, it can't be fake—not once. I'm not saying it wasn't uncomfortable because obviously it was, but because we've been doing it for so long it was less uncomfortable."
4:44 and its accompanying Footnotes are streaming exclusively on Tidal.