“I’ll be honest with you, I’m beginning to lose confidence in the Trump administration,” David Letterman told Jay-Z near the end of their hour-long conversation for Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
After a pause, Jay-Z let out a long laugh and surprised the host by saying, “I think it’s actually a great thing.
“I think what he’s forcing people to do is have a conversation and band together and work together,” the rapper continued. “You can’t really address something that’s not revealed. He’s bringing out an ugly side of America that we wanted to believe was gone. And it’s still here and we still have to deal with it.”
Nodding along, Letterman replied, “I completely agree,” adding, “We don’t need any more evidence. It’s not like, ‘Oh, did you hear what happened today?’ I mean, is he a racist? Is he not a racist? I’m telling you, you’re having a debate over whether a guy’s a racist, chances are that guy’s a racist.”
When the applause died down, he added, “But that doesn’t do any good. You know, case closed, no more calls, we have a winner. The humanity that this country has to represent has been refueled by this dumbass!”
Letterman expressed hope that the country’s biggest problem would “take care of itself,” but Jay-Z said it was up to the people to make that change happen. “I think we’ll see record-breaking numbers next election,” he predicted. “I think we’ll break every record.”
The last time Jay-Z spoke out against the president, it prompted a direct response from Trump himself. “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” Trump scream-tweeted earlier this year even after Jay-Z told CNN in an interview that Trump was “missing the whole point,” adding, “Treat me bad and pay me well: It’s not going to lead to happiness.”
For a while, it seemed as though Trump would get more airtime on this episode than Beyoncé. The Queen Bee to Jay’s Hova only came up a few times during the new episode, once at the beginning when Letterman joked, “I’m told your wife is also in show business,” and once more toward the end of their conversation when the host broached a touchier subject.
Throughout the hour, Letterman kept trying to come up with things he and Jay-Z had in common, the last of which was by far the most delicate. He began by talking about his own marital issues and how he got himself “into some trouble” a few years back when he ended up getting blackmailed by a man who discovered Letterman had been having extramarital affairs with female members of his staff.
“The situation was my responsibility and my fault and I did something that I had no business doing,” Letterman said. “I regret it. And since then, I have tried to acknowledge that mistake and be a better person.” He revealed his own fear that he had “blown up” his family and that his life would never be the same, explaining to Jay-Z that it’s something he’s talked about with multiple therapists but never with someone who had been in a similar situation.
“And I’m wondering if this rings a bell with you,” Letterman added, cautiously.
Rumors about Jay-Z’s own transgressions against Beyoncé first began to swirl nearly two years ago and were seemingly confirmed when the singer released her Lemonade album, complete with lines about her husband preferring “Becky with the good hair.”
Jay-Z opened up a bit about his “infidelity” during an interview with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet last fall, but he went even further with Letterman here. He began by saying a lot of men “don’t have emotional cues” from childhood to help them deal with relationships as adults.
“I want to have the emotional tools that it takes to keep my family together,” he told Letterman. “And much like you, I have a beautiful wife who’s understanding and knew I’m not the worst of what I’ve done. We did the hard work of going to therapy and you know, we love each other, right? So we really put in the work.
“Like you, I like to believe we’re in a better place today,” he continued. “But we’re still working and communicating and growing. And I’m proud of the father and the husband that I am today because of all the work that was done.”
Asked by Letterman if he will be making music until he’s 70 or 80 years old like Frank Sinatra, Jay-Z said, “I didn’t think so, but maybe. As long as I have the truth to say.”
There was certainly a lot of truth in this rare hour-long interview, during which Jay-Z found out he has far more in common with David Letterman than either man could have imagined. The only downside is that it was apparently taped before the host could ask his guest who really bit Beyoncé.