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Jay-Z: The Black Album Preview

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Jay-Z insists that

after the The Black Album, the curtain finally falls on his illustrious

career in hip-hop music.

Reclining comfortably

at Bassline Studios in Manhattan, with engineer Young Guru, Hov quipped with

a group of journalists and media heavies.

At a listening session for his latest, Hova revealed the soundtrack to his victory

lap out of rap’s arena.

“Are you guys

writing this stuff down?,” he asked, looking at one journalist in particular.

“You’re not.”

The journalist,

either a downlow disciple or extremely quick witted, points to his head, sighting

memory. “Reminds me of myself,” Jay says under his breath.

S Dot Carter wants

your undivided attention and he deserves it. He previewed the thoughts behind

the album and the songs that accompany it like “99 problems” backed

by the legendary Rick Rubin, “Encore,” by Kanye West, the just Blaze-produced

“December 4th,” “A Moment of Clarity," with Eminem’s

beat and others.

Here is an excerpt

from the group conversation that took place surrounding The Black Album.

AllHipHop: This

album is about you going back to your beginnings. Did you have to downgrade

your lifestyle in order to get back into that mentality?

Jay-Z: I just put

myself there. It’s just your memory. It’s like sitting down with a writer. Plus

I was writing a book at the same time so I was in that zone. It’s like sitting

down with somebody and going back to that time. It’s real memory.

AllHipHop: Who

are you competing with on this album, if anybody?

Jay-Z: My [creative]

inspiration’s from B.I.G. Like the last time, they brought me “Who Shot

Ya,” I made like four songs. When you see my albums, you look at it, I

was trying to make Blueprint better than Reasonable Doubt. And

I was trying to make Blueprint 2 just as big as Volume 2. So I

used my other albums.

AllHipHop: You

leaving the game is predicting a decline [in the game]…we already see a

decline. What are we gonna do now?

Jay-Z: “Its

not really my problem.” [Jay says in an Italian mobster voice]. My thing

with the industry is … I was inspired by cats that made different songs.

I was inspired to make a hotter song. I didn’t want to make “Who Shot

Ya.” My thing is, I think when people hear albums or anybody that’s

hot, they try to do tha same thing. They try to duplicate success by making

the same thing. It’s like, the more you hear it, it gets weaker every time.

Hopefully if they don’t have one of those things to follow, they will have

to make their own stuff. That’s what hip-hop is about. It’s like if this

guys is wearing brown and gold, I’m never gonna wear that. I want to where

this. It’s not about going to get the same thing.

AllHipHop: So now

people are going to be forced to innovate?

Jay-Z: Absolutely.

I mean, I’m not the only one as far as I am concerned.

AllHipHop: What

made you work with Rick Rubin. A lot of people don’t even know who he is

as an innovator in hip-hop? Did you consciously go after him?

Jay-Z: Yeah, I’ve

always wanted [to work with him]. I’ve always admired his work. And this

being the last album, I had a wish list of producers who I wanted to work with.

I got Rick. He was on my wish list of people I wanted to work with.

AllHipHop: What

about the song with DJ Premiere?

Jay-Z: The Primo

song didn’t come out.

AllHipHop: What

about songs with Kanye?

Jay-Z: Did I play

anything from Kanye?

AllHipHop: Nah

Jay-Z: [To Young Guru]“Encore?” “Encore.” [plays unmixed version of the song] Encore is not mixed or put together right. Things are out of place. Vocals are high. You get the idea.

AllHipHop: After

this album, you are going to totally quit rapping?

Jay-Z: I’m

not going to do any collaborations for at least a year. I’m going to step

away. Maybe a soundtrack. Its going to cost $1.2 [million].

AllHipHop: Are

just trying to go into acting or are you taking a more executive-type role?

Jay-Z: Hopefully,

a little bit of all that. It’s not just one main focus. I mean music is my love.

That was my main focus. Everything else is: ‘I’m going to try to do that.

I’m going to try to do that. I’m going to see what happens over there.’

Not one thing is more important that the other.

AllHipHop: What

does your retirement mean to Roc-A-Fella as a company?

Jay-Z: I think

that my presence at Roc-A-Fella was a gift and a curse. It think it brought

a lot of attention to the label, but also a lot of the artists on Roc-A-Fella

are compared [to me]. It’s not like,’“Let’s go hear the album’ Its

like, ‘Lets go hear the album – this ain’t better than a Jay album.’

So it puts a lot of pressure on them. I think [me leaving] frees them up. They

step up now, I think they’ll be super stars without that burden of having me

on the label.

AllHipHop: How

comfortable was your mom in the studio?

Jay-Z: I tricked

her. It was her birthday and she was having a party at the club. It was around

the corner so I told her to meet me here. When she got here, I was finishing

the verse, I was still in the booth. I was like, “You hear those empty

parts? You think you can fill those out? ”She didn’t get a chance

to think about it. She was already in the studio.

AllHipHop: How

did you hook up with 9th Wonder?

Jay-Z: I don’t

know.

Young Guru [Jay’s

engineer and friend]: I love Little Brother. I went and found them real quick.

I was going to bring them up here and play some beats for Jay. I know Jay f*cks

with Quest from The Roots. So I told him to page Jay and big up 9th.

Jay-Z: Oh sh*t!

They should give you half of that check. Amir called me that day, “I heard

you got a meeting with 9th.” I’m like, “Who’s 9th?”

He’s good. He’s nice. He’s in the same vein as another Primo,

another Pete Rock. He’s really good.

AllHipHop: How

many songs did you record?

Jay-Z: I did 12

songs on the album. Two interludes. I got another six songs.

AllHipHop: Are

all the songs we heard guaranteed to make the final cut?

Jay-Z: Yeah, yeah.

AllHipHop: There have been a lot of subliminal messages in your promotions. Like the “Buy Black” for the Black Album and “Get Free” for Freeway’s album. Are you trying to send messages subliminally to those that might get it?

Jay-Z: I’m more conscious of my actions and I’m working on my philanthropy thing. Its only right.

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