What We're Reading: Decoded by Jay-Z

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Not gonna lie, guys — I'm having a little trouble connecting this week's book to the generally-acknowledged interests of typical ladymag readers. But here's the thing: There's no disputing that Jay-Z is a fascinating, iconic figure in American music and culture. I mean, for gosh sakes, the guy was a teenage crack dealer who rose to become a 10-time Grammy Award winning artist, gajillionaire, and hubby to one Beyonce Knowles. And, come on, you guys are anything but typical. Kind of like Jay-Z, right?

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Decoded

Author: Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, a multiplatinum musician, entrepreneur, and all around exceptional dude.

Genre: Part memoir, part lyrics analysis, part peek into an oft-ignored sector of American history

What Happens: In a stunningly-designed volume complete with gorgeous portraits, album cover images, and photos of the Marcy Projects (site of the rapper's humble and dangerous upbringing), Jay-Z uses his song lyrics to explore his life story, the poetry of his music, and the history of hip hop.

Why Read It: You'll get a glimpse into one of the most brilliant minds in American music — and finally understand what "99 Problems" was talking about.

Details: Spiegel & Grau, $35.00, November 16

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