The Rolling Stone magazine website just published the long, unedited version of Brian Hiatt's end-of-the-decade interview with Jack White.
The whole thing is worth reading: White has always been very thoughtful about his artistic path, and his sense of music history and its application is unmatched for artists of his generation. (And who else has the cojones to make Dylan AND the Stones play deep-cut requests?)
But what caught our attention are White's thoughts on Jay-Z and how he sees himself as more Black Album than Black Keys:
There was a time this past decade when the idea of “garage rock” included bands that sounded nothing like the White Stripes. Do you feel like you have peers out there now that aren't necessarily doing the same kind of music, but work on the same level?
It's difficult to say. I feel like I'm a lot more to do with Jay-Z than I do with the Black Keys. And I don't know what that is, it's just a feeling. Like for example, when all the garage rock bands blew up at the beginning of the decade, the Hives and the Strokes… we visually had a lot in common with the Hives and the same sort of sense of humor, I thought. But for some reason, we did shows with the Strokes, and in a lot of ways we had absolutely nothing in common with them. We got along like gangbusters with the Strokes, though.
Do you like Jay-Z? People may think you don't like hip-hop.
I love hip-hop if it's done with a sense of the blues, even if the person who is creating it isn't thinking that at all. I think Jay-Z is just incredible. The Black Album is one of the best albums of the decade.
When you say you're working on the same world or the same level as Jay-Z, what does that mean exactly?
I think that what he's saying in his lyrics is honest. His ideas about metaphor are really reflective about what struggle is. He has a lot more room to work than I do. He can get away with a lot more than I can. And I'm envious of that because he can stretch into metaphors that I would love to do. You can get away with a lot of interesting stuff in hip-hop and he's really good at it.
And you know what? Even though it would be easy to be snarky and make a jab about “The (Jack) White Negro” or some such, in his case we kind of see the point. Jack White might very well be the first 21st century bluesman, following in the footsteps of his idol (who sometimes goes by Jack Frost). What do you think?