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Kate Tempest describes ‘surreal’ experience of inspiring Jay-Z

Kate Tempest said it was surreal meeting Jay-Z (Matt Crossick/PA)
Kate Tempest said it was surreal meeting Jay-Z (Matt Crossick/PA)

Kate Tempest has described the “surreal” moment Jay-Z joined her in a Los Angeles recording studio and detailed how her music inspired him to take his songs in a different direction.

The poet, rapper and author met Jay-Z while she was working with producer Rick Rubin on her new album The Book of Traps and Lessons.

She told The Big Issue: “It was surreal, you know. When Jay-Z came in to the caravan and listened to our songs and said, ‘I’m going to go home and do some writing’.

Jay Z
Jay-Z met with Kate Tempest (Yui Mok/PA)

“And then we had a really interesting conversation about his writing and where he was and the next thing that he released was this record where he was really doing new things with his lyrics (4:44, released in 2017).”

Rubin added: “While Kate was here, Jay came and visited and listened. I remembered he listened to three works in progress.

“And he said, ‘OK I’m going to go home. I know what I need to do now’.”

Rubin added that he was “very moved” when he randomly spotted Tempest performing her poetry on American television, saying: “I saw the connections to rap. I didn’t know that you had ever done rap at that time.

“I just thought you were purely a poet, a traditional poet, and there was tremendous energy and passion in the performance of the poetry.

“And I thought, ‘Wow, if that was brought into the musical world, that would be a very powerful thing.’ It was just seeing something in Kate. And trying to protect it, this magic thing that you do.”

He added that he had rarely been moved to offer to work with an artist he does not know, comparing the feeling to when he first heard Public Enemy.

He said: “I can’t even remember (the last time that feeling hit). But one of the first times would be Public Enemy.”

The full interview is in the new edition of The Big Issue, out now.

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