It’s a hard knock life, but when the Jigga Man is in the heart of the city and wants to see the Magna Carter, you gotta holla. There’s no Church in the wild, but there is one in Salisbury.
Last summer, Jay-Z was headlining Wireless Festival, and while he was in the country he wanted to check out one of the original copies of the Magna Carta in Salisbury Cathedral, the basis for his recent album Magna Carta….Holy Grail.
I didn’t really expect to meet the rap mega-star during my summer holidays, but then he showed up outside my front door.
He came down on a tourist trip to check out the document briefly, alongside which the album artwork was exclusively placed a few weeks ago. I thought I’d show him around the place.
He parked outside my house and knocked on the door, accompanied by his entourage which included a very tanned, jewellery-laden bodyguard whose arms were twice the size of my face.
Unfortunately Mrs. Carter did not make it but I passed on my regards.
The Magna Carta was of course signed in 1215 to limit the King of England’s power. I decided against discussing with Jay the possible parallel with his rap-game power perhaps not being what it once was.
Salisbury Cathedral on a Sunday morning is your typical church scene – tables of tea and biscuits lined the cloisters as streams of Home Counties OAPs filed out of the morning service.
All of them greeted the Cathedral’s Dean and Treasurer as we walked round, blanking the accompanying African-American save for the occasional intrigued glance at the novelty of such a character in a Wiltshire cathedral.
Jay and a couple of his friends took photos from every angle with the building, the original Magna Carta document and the artwork as they walked through as tourists.
Without resorting to “he’s just such a normal guy in real life!”, a few things did strike me:
• He was incredibly polite and humble.
• He is huge, probably about 6’4” at least.
• He was very cheerful and happy to pose for photos and chat about things, including the origin of Magna Carta. He said the idea is one he’s had for about two years due to the link between it and his surname (Carter).
It’s a bit strange being a middle-class, white Brit whose biggest experience of injustice is being ripped off by Ocado, and getting to (very briefly) hang out with a man who sold crack in Brooklyn from a young age to get by, and then shot his brother at the age of 12.
It was quite enjoyable, given how much we were in awe of him, that Jay and his cronies were in awe and appreciation of something we were associated with (the 800-year-old cathedral – I pretended I practically built it myself when with him).
After taking some more photos, Jigga said his goodbyes to Salisbury and drove back off to join Justin Timberlake and Rihanna on stage in Stratford. What a life!