Jay-Z went back to Brooklyn to give fans an early listen to some of the music on his upcoming album, “American Gangster.”
On a studio lot for VH1’s “Storytellers” series, Jay-Z, along with a full band, performed several tracks from the album inspired by the upcoming Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe flick.
“American Gangster,” in theaters Nov. 2, chronicles the rise and fall of notorious Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas. Jay-Z said watching the film made him reflect on his own drug-slinging days and the dangers of that lifestyle.
“I was watching the movie and I was pulling emotions from the film,” the 37-year-old rapper told the crowd, which included girlfriend Beyonce, on Wednesday night.
Among the new songs he previewed were “Pray,” “Dreamin”’ and “Party Life,” and another about addiction.
“Can I get my Lindsay Lohan on?” he joked before launching into his rap, though he quickly added: “I definitely went too far ... I might have to edit that.”
Between explaining the songs, the rapper also talked about the state of the rap game.
“I know there’s a whole thing on censorship; this album is an easy target. I think it’s misplaced,” he said. He also seemed to criticize those who are against the use of the N-word in rap lyrics, noting there are other hurtful slurs in the language: “What are we going to do, take every word off the table?”
Jay-Z stressed that “American Gangster,” due out Nov. 6, is an album with a story from beginning to end — something he says too many rap discs lack.
“I’m not knocking the way anybody makes (their music),” he said, “(but) I think a body of work is what the game needs right now.”
“VH1 Storytellers: Jay-Z: Life of an American Gangster” debuts Nov. 8 on VH1.