Arrested Development narrator Ron Howard followed Jay-Z around Philadelphia during his massive Made In America festival last weekend, and will release a documentary surrounding the event. Howard recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the experience:
So did you have fun hanging out with Jay-Z?
I really did. The whole thing was interesting for me. I’ve never interviewed anybody, first of all. I’m pretty good at the initial instincts, and the very first time that I met [Jay-Z] some months back, we met with him in his office and there was just something that I really respected about him. I think he’s pretty true to himself and pretty clear about what he thinks. Kind of the opposite of mercurial, I’d say. I don’t know what the opposite of mercurial is, but he’s I think tremendously focused. I’ve been around a lot of artists who are also good at business and . . . one minute they’ll sound like an artist and the next minute they’ll sound like the characters in Mad Men. Jay-Z’s a very good businessman and he talks about it and enjoys it, but he doesn’t shift. He has a sense of what he thinks people might appreciate, because he sort of trusts that if he appreciates it, there are people out there who will as well. And that’s what’s interesting to me: that he’s accomplished in those areas but I don’t hear that sort of cynical, world-weary quality.
And when he’s onstage, the confidence he has with the microphone is pretty amazing.
I got to watch in the pit, right on the edge on the stage. I understood something that I never even really had thought about before. He really communicates, whereas I think some of the other hip hop artists – they were great performers and they were dynamic and charismatic – but on a consistent basis, every idea seemed to be a communication. I always thought that about Sinatra. It’s a connection. It’s a story they’re telling you. And I was kind of knocked out by that. I’ve never seen Eminem live, but in our movie, 8 Mile, I felt like that was happening.
Would you ever work with Jay-Z again?
I would do a documentary about Jay-Z. Yes, I would. I mean, that’s not what this is particularly, but he’s central to it. But if I had a chance and I thought I could do it justice, you know, I think he’s a great subject. He’s a great subject. Definitely.
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