For Jay-Z and Beyonce, pressing play was far from easy.
Music's star couple famously did not shy away from addressing their personal strife when they released back-to-back albums between 2016 and 2017. Through the songstress' April 2016 sixth studio album, Lemonade, the mother of three honed in on topics of infidelity, marital turmoil and identity. "I'll always be committed. I been focused. I always paid attention, been devoted. Tell me, what did I do wrong?" she asked in the track, "Love Drought."
Meanwhile, her famous husband followed with 4:44 more than a year later in June, containing what many suspected to be responses to some of his wife's musical messages. "And if my children knew / I don't even know what I would do / If they ain't look at me the same / I would probably die with all the shame / 'You did what with who?' / What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate? / 'You risked that for Blue?'" he rapped in his title track, "4:44," some of several lines in which he seemingly addressed his own adultery.
While fans imagined the kind of impact their joint musical unloading must have had on their relationship, Jay-Z addressed those questions during a recent sit-down with Dean Baquet for T, The New York Times Style Magazine. As the rapper explained, the process initially was a therapeutic joint venture.
"We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together...and then 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," the Grammy nominee shared. "Um, we still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, 'I'm making this album.' I was right there the entire time."
Nevertheless, the results were painful. When asked about their reactions to each other's work and whether it caused them pain, Jay-Z replied, "Of course. And both very, very uncomfortable, but...the best place in the, you know, hurricane is like in the middle of it."
As he added, "We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane."
However, out of sensitivity to the victims of recent hurricanes, the rapper adjusted his metaphor. "The best place is right in the middle of the pain," he clarified to the magazine. "And that's where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released."
While he acknowledged many "walk away" when faced with the pain they caused someone, that doesn't appear to be the case for the couple, who recently welcomed twins, Rumi and Sir Carter.
"At the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another's craft," Jay-Z noted to Baquet. "I think she's amazing."