The cover for Jay-Z’s memoir Decoded features a golden piece from Andy Warhol’s 1984 series, the “Rorschach” paintings.
To write this 336-page book, 36 of Jay-Z’s songs were “decoded” and broken down to offer readers an intimate look at Jay-Z’s art. The printed and eBook formats contain illustrations, lyric analysis, and the autobiography content. The iPad/iPhone version takes it one step further with interactive features, an exclusive video, and customizable content. The book’s list price was set unusually high at $40.
Billboard.com published an excerpt from Decoded: “When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted it to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry if you look at them closely enough. The second was I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”
There are more than 30 paintings in Warhol’s “Rorschach” series, some of which were done on canvases more than ten feet tall in a variety of different colors. The term “Rorschach” conventionally refers to the psychological inkblot test named after Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychiatrist. Comic book enthusiasts associate the term as the name for a hero in the Watchmen.