I’m at a little table in a homey Italian restaurant on Mulberry Street waiting for Mr. Shawn Carter, who has perfected the art of triangulation. It’s where he likes to eat his chicken parms.
He’s not late. He’s dressed like a kid, in cap and jeans, if he said he was 30 you wouldn’t doubt him. (He’s 42.) He’s overwhelmingly familiar, which is of course a function of his fame — rap superstar, husband of Beyoncé, minority owner of the Nets, whose new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will open this month — but also of the fact he’s been speaking into our ears for so long. No one stares. The self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” is treated like a piece of the furniture. Ah, but there’s always one: a preppy white guy discreetly operating his iPhone’s reverse-camera function. It’s an old hustle; it makes Jay chuckle: “They think they’re the first one who’s ever come up with that concept.”
Photo: Cass Bird
Sitting next to Jay-Z while Zadie Smith interviewed him during lunch wasn’t a dream after all.