Oprah Winfrey talks to EURweb's Cherie Saunders at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 6, 2011

*Once upon a time, Oprah Winfrey hated hip hop.

The daytime queen refused to have any rapper appear on her talk show.  Much of her animosity was aimed at gangsta rap – with its glorification of violence and ample use of the N-word, B-word and H-word, among other choice language.

Then, along came Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

Suddenly, the television icon was devoting an entire talk show to the rapper – which had O touring his Brooklyn neighborhood and even strolling arm-in-arm with the former drug dealer through his old stomping grounds, Marcy Projects.

Then on January 1st, Oprah chose to kick off her “Master Class” biography series on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Networkwith an episode featuring the rap mogul [Watch in its entirety at left.] as well as a corresponding feature on the artist in O Magazine.

What happened?

Despite the fact that his lyrics contain every one of the aforementioned words that Oprah finds offensive – most notably the N-word – was Jay-Z the one rapper able to change her mind about rap?

Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z in Brooklyn

“He hasn’t changed my mind about rap, he has opened my mind,” Winfrey told me exclusively. “What we did on our show was agree to disagree. I still have my opinion about the N-word, and he still has his.  I can see his point of view and he can see mine.

“I mean, I would say he’s become a really good friend of mine because of that. We agree to disagree.”

Oprah and Jay-Z in Australia

Her love fest with Beyonce’s husband continued last month with his participation in Oprah’s big Australian Adventure, and was even expressed on one of her “Favorite Things” episodes this year, when she gave everyone his book “Decoded.”

“His book is fantastic,” she added. “There’s a thing in his book where he talks about rappers are trying to tell stories that the rest of the world doesn’t want to hear. And I realized that I was closed to wanting to hear it. So the difference is I’m now open to hearing it.”