Back to Main MenuCelebrationsFraud PreventionManage Your AdPlace an AdIt takes guts for a rapper to admit that he can relate to Little Orphan Annie. Then again, far be it from Jay Z not to lay it on the line. In 1998, this multiplatinum selling, Grammy Award winning MC released "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," an unlikely Top 20 hit that juxtaposed gritty inner city lyrics with the catchy refrain of "It's a Hard Knock Life" from "Annie," the Broadway musical. In a priceless twist, Jay Z reveals that he got the nod only after fabricating a story about winning an "Annie" essay contest when he was a boy.Born Shawn Carter on Dec. Early on, rapping was merely a hobby, fueled, we learn, by Apple Jacks and Haagen Dazs. Selling drugs was his livelihood."It was life during wartime," Jay Z recalls. "I lost people I loved, was betrayed by people I trusted, felt the breeze of bullets flying by my head."In marked contrast to your run of the mill rap reminiscence (50 Cent's "From Pieces to Weight" comes to mind), "Decoded" doesn't dwell on establishing Jay Z's street credentials. Like hip hop itself which he compares to the artwork of Jean Michel Basquiat because "it combined different traditions and techniques to create something new" the book is a mash up: part memoir, part broader hip hop generational history, part how to songwriting guide.What it's not is a tell all. If you're looking for details on exactly how Jay Z popped the question to Beyonce, forget it.LeBron James ("the best [basketball player] of his generation") and other celebrity acquaintances Bono, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, etc. make cameo appearances, too. But to his credit, Jay Z is less interested in name dropping than he is in reflecting on more personal topics, such as the keen eye for detail that he inherited from his father.Jay Z was 26 when his debut album, "Reasonable Doubt," came out in 1996. Life on the streets provided material. Yet from the start, he brought a fresh perspective to the conversation."Hip hop had described poverty in the ghetto and painted pictures of violence and thug life, but I was interested in something a little different: the interior space of a young kid's head," he writes.While poking around his own noggin, Jay Z shows little regard for chronology. As in Bob Dylan's "Chronicles: Volume One," "Decoded" rewinds and fast forwards randomly. It touches on the various business ventures (including his own Roc A Fella Records label and Rocawear clothing line), his 1999 bust for assaulting a record industry rival and campaigning for Barack Obama.It's autobiography for the iPod age: life in shuffle mode."My mind is always jumping around, restless, making connections, mixing and matching ideas, rather than marching in a straight line," Jay Z tells us.Nonetheless, the visually rich "Decoded" is coherent, helped by Jay Z's unfailingly vivid way with words "[s]keletal and ashy" crackheads who were "jittery as rookie beat cops" populate this childhood.Worth the retail price alone are deconstructions of dozens of classic Jay Z songs, including "Big Pimpin'," "99 Problems" and "Minority Report." They're scattered throughout "Decoded," with lyrics richly annotated by Jay Z to illuminate the thought processes behind particular lines. "Most Kings," for instance, manages to work in head spinning references to King Arthur, James Brown and Kurt Cobain. Men Nike Free Run 4.0 V2 Iguana Reflect Silver Cargo Khaki Quilted ,Wmns Nike Free Run 3 Cool Grey Silver Sail University Red Nike Roshe PRM Women Aubergine Sail White Electric Green Wmns Nike Free Run 3 Cool Grey Silver Sail University Red Women Nike Free Run 3 Pure Platinum Reflect Silver Volt Nike Roshe Run Hyp Women Black Pink Women Free Run 3 Prism Blue Reflective Silver Pure Platinum Volt Women Nike Free Run 3 Light Bone Vivid Orange Nike Roshe Run Hyp Women New Green Red Nike Free Run 3 Anthracite Gray Reflect Silver New Green Women You're making good time, cruising through green lights, when one suddenly turns yellow. Can you make it? Should you gun it? Go for it, you tell yourself, even as the light turns red. Chances are, there won't be a police officer nearby to give you a ticket. But if you think it was worth running the light just to shave a few seconds off your drive time, think again, says Colleen Nordberg. She knows firsthand what can happen when a driver makes that split second decision to push on the gas instead of the brake pedal at a red light. On Aug. 21, 2005, Colleen, then 35, was riding her bicycle to her job at the University of Utah, when 22 year old David Willey ran a red light at 1700 South and 2100 East. on that brilliant Sunday. Glancing to her left, she saw a white pickup truck bolting toward her, but there was no time to react. Later, her only memory of the trauma would be of her thoughts before impact: "I'm going to die right here. I'm never going to see Brian again." Brian Nordberg was working out at the gym when the call came in. His wife was thrown 40 feet when the truck slammed into her at 35 mph, breaking her leg and fracturing her cheekbones. Colleen had lost a lot of blood and suffered severe head trauma, hitting the ground with such force that her helmet cracked. Although she was in a touch and go coma for three days, her will to live pulled her through. It took months for her to walk again, and she still suffers from memory loss and anxiety three years later. "My whole life was turned upside down because he chose to run a red light rather than wait a few seconds for it turn green again," says Colleen. "He got off easy compared to what I've been through. I feel blessed to be alive." She and Brian wanted to get together for a Free Lunch chat in the hope of drawing more attention to the problem of red light runners, especially since another driver seriously injured two people while text messaging and cruising through a light last week. National Stop on Red Week is coming up Aug. 3, "but we're hoping people will pay more attention year round," says Brian. "In 2005, when Colleen was hit, there were 3,184 crashes in Utah related to somebody running a red light. That's about 100 a day, and that number hasn't gone down. What we need are more citations and more serious consequences. It's become an epidemic." Red light crashes carry a high fatality rate, mainly because they're usually high speed, side impact "T bone" crashes, says Colleen. "When you're walking or on a bike like I was, you're especially vulnerable," she says. "I feel grateful today that I can't remember all the details. It was very traumatic for my family, waiting to hear whether I'd live or die." Colleen has returned to biking, but she keeps a watchful eye on red traffic lights. "People get a feeling of power from driving fast and speeding up when they see that yellow light," she says. "They need to pause and think: Is it worth somebody's life?" 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