Jay-Z & David Letterman frankly discuss past infidelities on Netflix talk show

David Letterman's conceit for his new Netflix show, to find common ground with his guests, yielded some dramatic material in his latest episode, which saw the comedian and JAY-Z discussing infidelity in their marriages.

At the end of the latest episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which released on Netflix on Friday morning (Aug. 6), Letterman addressed cheating on his wife and asked if his own experience "[rang] a bell" with the rapper and businessman.

"A few years ago, I got myself into some trouble, and the situation was my responsibility and my fault. I did something that I had no business doing and I regret it and since then I have tried to acknowledge that mistake and be a better person," Letterman said, never saying the words "cheating" or "infidelity." "At the time the pain that I caused myself was the fear that I had blown up my family … I never talked to a person who had been in that situation. And I'm wondering if this rings a bell with you."

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, responded, "Yeah, of course. For a lot of us, we don't have, especially where I grew up and men in general, we don't have emotional cues from when we're young. Our emotional cues are 'Be a man, stand up, don't cry!'" The rapper went on to say that his 2002 single "Song Cry" attempted to address that he wished he had the "emotional tools" to keep his family together.

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Blue Ivy Carter through the years
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Blue Ivy Carter through the years
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Beyonce Knowles and Blue Ivy Carter are seen in Midtown on November 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: (L-R) Blue Ivy Carter, recording artists Jay Z and Beyonce speak onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by MTV/MTV1415/Getty Images for MTV)
INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Jay-Z, Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Blue Ivy Carter and Jay-Z in the audience watching Beyonce perform during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Recording artists Rihanna attends The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Blue Ivy Carter attends the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) An aerial view Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter arriving to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/MTV1617/Getty Images for MTV)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce attend the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Singer Solange Knowles, Blue Ivy Carter, hip hop artist Jay-Z and Guest during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARAS)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Recording artist Jay Z, daughter Blue Ivy Carter and recording artist Beyonce attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Jay-Z, Blue Ivy and Beyonce attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter attend The 67th NBA All-Star Game: Team LeBron Vs. Team Stephen at Staples Center on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Feb 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Recording artist Beyonce and daughter Blue Ivy and mother Tina Knowles attend the 2018 NBA All Star game between Team Stephen and Team LeBron at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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"Much like you I have a beautiful wife who was understanding and who knew that I'm not the worst of what I'm done and who did the hard work of going to therapy and really, we love each other. We really put in the work," Jay-Z said, referencing his wife Beyonce. "For years, this music that I'm making now is a result of things that happened already. Like you, I like to believe that we're in a better place today but still working and communicating and growing. I'm proud of the father and the husband that I am today because of all the work that was done."

The late-night host also said that he's changed since he put in work on his marriage: "I now know I'm a different person and my worst fear is not coming to pass." Jay-Z then stood up and shook his hand.

Letterman famously admitted to having affairs with coworkers and cheating on wife Regina Lasko on a 2009 episode of The Late Show, after a blackmailer attempted to extort him for $2 million to withhold the information. Jay-Z has spoken openly about past infidelity against wife Beyoncé since she released her 2016 album Lemonade, which dealt explicitly her husband's relationship with a woman she gave the alias "Becky with the good hair." Jay-Z, in turn, addressed his infidelity in his 2017 album 4:44.

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Beyonce, Blue Ivy and Jay Z sitting courtside
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Beyonce, Blue Ivy and Jay Z sitting courtside

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Beyoncé sits court side in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Beyonce Knowles attends the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles attend the 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Beyonce reacts after the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Beyonce attends the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19: Beyonce and Jay-Z during the NBA All-Star Game as part of the 2017 NBA All Star Weekend on February 19, 2017 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The frank conversation capped an episode that also touched on Jay-Z's opinions on music, his beef with Kanye West and feelings on Trump and current political climate.

Jay-Z, who previously slammed Trump for his immigration comments on The Van Jones Show in January, said that he thought the Trump administration actually was "a great thing." In explanation, the rapper said, "I think what he's forcing people to do is have a conversation and for people to band together and work together. You can't really address something that's not revealed. He's bringing out an ugly side of America that we wanted to believe was gone. And it's still here and we've got to deal with it." He added that he thought that the current administration will bring more young people out to the polls, and that he believed the 2020 presidential election would break voting records.

 

Letterman and Jay-Z discussed the rapper's continued advocacy for fellow performer Meek Mill, who is engaged in a protracted legal conflict with a Philadelphia judge over his sentencing for breaking parole. In November, Jay-Z wrote a New York Times op-ed in Mills' defense. They also touched on the "99 Problems" performer's HBO documentary series Time: The Kalief Browder Story, about a 16-year-old who was accused of theft and held at Rikers Island for three years without a trial, with time in solitary confinement. "He's not this outlier that everyone would like you to believe," Jay-Z said.

The episode also spent a significant time on Jay-Z's opinions on music, with field segments to the Malibu, Ca.- based Shangri La studio owned by music producer Rick Rubin, where Jay-Z, Kanye West, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Johnny Cash all recorded. Of Kanye West, with whom Jay-Z reportedly has a difficult relationship, the rapper explained, "That's my brother. We're beyond friends. Really, like literally, my little brother is Kanye, and like your little brother, things happen sometimes."

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David Letterman through the years
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David Letterman through the years
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12: Julia Roberts catches up with Dave on the Late Show with David Letterman Thursday Dec. 12, 2013 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02: David Letterman appears outside the 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on April 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
MUNCIE, IN - NOVEMBER 26: David Letterman attends 'A Conversation With David Letterman And Oprah Winfrey' at Ball State University on November 26, 2012 in Muncie, Indiana. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 3: Actor Johnny Depp chats with Dave about his new movie 'Transcendence' on the Late Show with David Letterman Thursday April 3, 2014 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Jay Leno, host David Letterman -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 25: Marine Lance Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is welcomed to the Thursday CBS Late Show by host David Letterman. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JULY 30: Jay Carney and Late Show host David Letterman discuss White House press briefings during Wednesday's 7/30/14 taping in New York. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: 'Late Show with David Letterman' host David Letterman plays a tennis match against Serena Williams at Ed Sullivan Theater on August 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
THE VIEW - 5/12/14 After 17 incredible seasons and 10 different female panelists, Barbara Walters says farewell to live daily television with her final co-host appearance this week on 'The View,' the daytime program she created for ABC. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. Today's special guests include David Letterman, Michael J. Fox and guest co-host, Jane Fonda. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Stephen Colbert, future host of the LATE SHOW, talks to David Letterman when Colbert visits the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN, Tuesday, April 22 (11:35 PM-12:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 5: Peyton Manning and Late Show host David Letterman try their passing skills at moving New York City cabs with open windows during Monday's taping 5/5/14 in New York. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Stephen Colbert, future host of the LATE SHOW, talks to David Letterman when Colbert visits the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN, Tuesday, April 22 (11:35 PM-12:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02: Talk Show Host David Letterman is seen on April 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by DVT/Star Max/GC Images)
Kennedy Center Honoree comedian and late night talk show host David Letterman arrives for an event in the East Room of the White House December 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama attended the event at the White House with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees before to celebrate their contribution to the arts before heading to the Kennedy Center for the honors program. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Dustin Hoffman (L) chats with comedian and late night talk show host David Letterman during an event in the East Room of the White House on December 2, 2012 in Washington. US Presidenmt Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the event at the White House with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees to celebrate their contribution to the arts before heading to the Kennedy Center for the honors program. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Announcer Ed McMahon, guest host David Letterman in the 1970s -- (Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: Stupid pet tricks with Late Show Host David Letterman on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Heather Wines/CBS via Getty Images) *** Local Caption)
NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien chats with Dave when he visits the Late Show with David Letterman, Thursday May 17, 2012 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 19: First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Late Show host David Letterman during Monday's 3/19/12 taping in New York. (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: David Letterman jokes around with photographers at 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on September 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: Guest host David Letterman on March 26, 1979 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
American comedian and television show host David Letterman, circa 1980. (Photo by Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images)
Host David Letterman and tennis player Maria Sharapova during a taping of 'Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on April 21, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Kohen/WireImage)
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West infamously called out Jay-Z during a long rant at a Sacramento, Calif. concert in 2016 before The College Dropout performer was admitted to a hospital for a psychological breakdown. West also cut ties with Jay-Z's streaming platform, Tidal, last year.

Seemingly for comedic effect, Letterman asked Jay-Z to explain rap conventions to him several times. When he asked if rap songs were all biographical, the rapper laughed, saying rap "pretends to be" from personal experience. Of his use of the "n-word" in songs, he said, "Someone has used a word to down your entire culture and tradition. And what hip-hop did was take that word and flip it and use it as a word of empowerment." And when asked about his definition of excellence in music, he complimented Snoop Dogg's voice and Eminem's cadence, saying that there are multiple ways to be great in the music world.

In a scene that was widely shared before the episode aired, Jay-Z also discussed his mother Gloria Carter's sexuality: While he was recording 4:44, his mother came out to him and later became the subject and co-writer of his song on the album, "Smile." He said that he knew his mother was gay before she told him, and that when she did, "I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free."

Jay-Z's latest tour with Beyonce, On the Run II, will run June 6 through Oct. 2.

 

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