Both Jay Z and Beyoncé have addressed his infidelity and how it nearly ended their nine year marriage on their confessional albums 4:44 and Lemonade. But on Wednesday the hip hop legend, 47, explicitly acknowledged his unfaithfulness for the first time in an intimate interview with The New York Times Magazine.
Jay Z hasn’t yet revealed the identity of “Becky with the good hair”, but he did talk about what made him stray, attributing his betrayal of Queen Bey to the lasting impact of his difficult early years in the Brooklyn projects.
“You put on this shell of this tough person that’s really willing to fight and possibly kill. […] You have to survive. So you got into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode what happens? You shut down all emotions. So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can't connect. […] In my case, it's deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity,” he explained.
Jay Z also opened up about going into therapy to save his marriage, and how producing Lemonade and 4:44 helped heal his relationship with the mother of his children Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir.
Beyoncé first addressed their marital troubles in her multi-Grammy Award-winning album Lemonade, the singer’s most critically acclaimed work to date.
Her husband released 4:44 around a year later. He had this to say about their music:
“We were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together. […] We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane. […] And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another's craft. I think she's amazing.”
Finally, Jay Z acknowledged how close the iconic couple came to splitting up over his transgression, and spoke about how difficult it was to see the pain he caused Beyoncé.
“You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”
Here’s hoping that Jay and Bey are in a better place these days.
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire.