If you’ve never listened to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interview Jay-Z, go do it now.
“I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice — anything just to get a paper bag,” he says. “And I’d write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook. As I got further and further away from home and my notebook, I had to memorize these rhymes — longer and longer and longer. … By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn’t need pen or paper — my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape.”