Business mogul and hip-hop artist Jay-Z may have a net worth valued at $810 million today, but he refuses to let his success obscure the story of his humble beginnings for his children.
Though Jay-Z's kids will grow up in an environment different from that of his own childhood, Jay-Z says showing compassion for others supersedes all the lessons he wants to teach them.
"The most important thing I think out of all this is to teach compassion and to identify with everyone's struggle and to know these people made these sacrifices for us to be where we are and to push that forward — for us," Jay-Z said in an article published ahead of his cover story in New York Times Style.
In an interview with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, the two discussed racial and political issues as well as Jay-Z's professional and personal life.
The rapper, 47, and his wife Beyoncé are generally private about their children, 5-year-old Blue Ivy and 5-month-old twins Rumi and Sir Carter.
Much of Jay-Z's interview with Baquet ties into topics in "4:44," his 13th studio album released in the weeks after the twins were born. In "4:44," Jay-Z discusses hardships while growing up as well as his growth a husband, father and entrepreneur.
Jay-Z told Baquet "there is a delicate balance" to making make sure his kids understand where he came from.
For over 20 years, well before he released his first album at age 26, Jay-Z has used his lyrics to illustrate the beauty and challenges of growing up in Brooklyn and public housing in the 1970s.
"You have to educate your children on the world as it exists today and how it got to that space, but my child doesn't need the same tools that I needed growing up," Jay-Z said.
One of those tools: "being tough."
"I needed certain tools to survive my area that my child doesn't need. They're growing up in a different environment," he tells the publication. "But also they have to know their history."
Jay-Z noted that he wants Blue, Sir and Rumi to "have a sense of what it took to get to this place," and "have compassion for others."
Other core tools he said he wants his children to have include fairness, empathy and a loving heart.
"Those things translate in any environment," Jay-Z said.
In teaching his kids compassion, Jay-Z wants them to learn to "treat people as they are, no matter who they are, no matter where they sit in the world."
Ultimately, he acknowledges that "they'll be who they are," and though he can't physically buy or give them love and compassion in their hands, he can show them affection and love.
"The most beautiful things are things that are invisible," Jay-Z tole the Times. "That's where the important things lie."
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