Unlock the mind of a rap superstar with Decoded by Jay-Z

Feb 2, 2011
Music

Music mogul Jay-Z released his memoir, Decoded, back in November, and last week Random House Digital Inc. rolled out an enhanced app-version of the rapper’s story. Within Decoded by Jay-Z, available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, users are given a glimpse of the artist’s story and personal take on the making of his music. […]

Music mogul Jay-Z released his memoir, Decoded, back in November, and last week Random House Digital Inc. rolled out an enhanced app-version of the rapper’s story. Within Decoded by Jay-Z, available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, users are given a glimpse of the artist’s story and personal take on the making of his music.

While the price point is high, compared with other apps — $9.99 for 10 tracks plus an additional $24.99 to unlock the remaining content — the full Decoded by Jay-Z experience does include the book in its entirety, which offers 36 sets of annotated lyrics and 17 videos. I didn’t spring for the full upgrade, so I had the difficult task of selecting the 10 Jay-Z tracks I was most interested in learning more about. The whole book is available to choose from in the limited version, and the tracks with accompanying videos are denoted with a filmstrip icon so you can pick wisely.

The interface of the app worked decently on my iPhone 4. Holding the device in portrait mode gives a list-style menu with full-screen plain text in the “Story” section. Flipping into landscape gives users full-page screen shots and art from Decoded, and provides an overall richer experience. If you have an iPad, that’s definitely the device to use.

I was a little unsure whom the app was designed for, as Jay-Z fans who have purchased the book will already have most of the information at hand. I found the annotated lyrics to be the most interesting section, but some of the annotations were a bit too basic. The supplementary video content played quickly, and the clips are well-produced.

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Decoded by Jay-Z is a worthy purchase for diehard fans without the book, but is too expensive for a casual listener.

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Kathryn Swartz

Kathryn Swartz is a freelance writer/editor who doesn't know how people lived pre iPhone. She attended the Missouri School of Journalism.

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