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Thread: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

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    Default Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    2005 New York Times News Service@

    NEW YORK — Jay-Z, the veteran rapper turned president of Def Jam
    Recordings, sat in his sparsely decorated office in Manhattan one
    sweltering August afternoon. He was staring intently at Tru Life,
    an up-and-coming rapper from the Lower East Side. Desperately
    seeking a record deal, Tru Life, his patter at turns poignant and
    comical, was doing his best to convince Jay-Z and the coterie of
    A&R men in the room that he was worthy of being signed.
    “Yo, Jay,” he said, “this has got to work! I got a bad back!
    I can’t be packing boxes at Home Depot!”
    “The dude who gives me the right lane,” he continued, “ain’t
    going to lose.”
    “I’ve been shot too,” he said, “been pronounced dead at
    Bellevue and all of that, but I don’t like to talk about it cause
    that’s 50’s thing,” referring to the rapper 50 Cent. “Everybody
    can get a record deal, but you can’t buy a star, you can’t buy
    charisma, and I got that.” And so it went, an animated
    Tru Life delivering his sermon for more than 10 minutes. Spent, he
    finally slumped back in his chair.
    Jay-Z leaned forward in his. “Somebody,” he declared in
    delighted exasperation, “get this kid in front of a camera!” The
    room erupted in laughter. Tru Life was signed to a six-figure deal
    later that evening.
    “It’s weird,” Jay-Z said the next day over a steak dinner at
    the 40/40 club, the Chelsea sports bar he owns. “Because I’ve been
    there. I was in his shoes before and now I’m the one making the
    dreams come true.”
    It has been more than seven months since Jay-Z, 35, born Shawn
    Carter, accepted an offer from Vivendi Universal, the world’s
    biggest record corporation, to assume the presidency of Def Jam,
    its seminal rap label. He’d be the first to admit that going from
    international superstar to swivel-chair-riding executive has been
    no easy leap.
    Though he successfully ran the boutique label Roc-A-Fella
    Records with his former partners Damon Dash and Kareem (Biggs)
    Burke, managing a company like Def Jam is an entirely different
    proposition. He has quickly had to learn that his success in this
    new venture will depend more on his abilities as a talent scout,
    marketer and office politician than on his past successes.
    Initially, he said, he was reluctant to take the job. “I knew
    Def Jam was in a transition period,” he explained. “The artists
    that had set the brand on fire had been there for a while. It was
    time to get new blood in the building and I know that takes a
    minute, but I also knew that people would expect me to be
    successful tomorrow. ‘You’re here. Let’s get a hit.’ People
    wouldn’t be realistic.” In fact, he raps about the problem on the
    remix of “Diamonds Are Forever” by Kanye West, one of the
    company’s biggest stars: “I’m not a businessman/ I’m a business,
    man/ So let me handle my business, damn!”
    At this time last year, Jay-Z was in the throes of a major
    bidding war. Lyor Cohen, the chief executive of Island/Def Jam, had
    left for Warner Music. Def Jam’s president, Kevin Liles, clashed
    with Antonio Reid, who replaced Cohen as his boss, and quit. That
    left an opening at the top of Def Jam — and it also left Cohen and
    Reid, two big corporate rivals, pursuing the same man. Warner
    offered Jay-Z an equity stake in the company, but Universal
    prevailed, with a deal that is said to include a three-year
    contract and ownership of his master recordings starting in
    approximately 10 years.
    In the end, he says, he took the job because he was seeking a
    challenge. Starting with the classic “Reasonable Doubt,” Jay-Z,
    in less than a decade, had released 10 albums, which sold more than
    33 million copies, rising from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn,
    where he once dealt drugs, to become one of music’s most respected
    and prolific artists.
    “I’d been in my comfort zone for a while” is how he describes
    it. “I was bored. I didn’t want to be doing rap just to do it: Oh,
    it’s November again. Time to put out another record.” He said he
    was eager to prove that there can be life after rap, that artists
    can do more than star in “Where are they now?” specials. The
    dearth of African-American executives in the music industry was
    also a concern, he said, pointing to the Billboard magazine on his
    desk. Its headline read, “Where Are the Black Execs?” “See what
    I mean?,” he said with a wry chuckle.
    It may be too early to determine whether Jay-Z will sink or soar
    as a big label executive, but many are eager to see him succeed.
    “If he pulls this off, he’s the modern-day bootlegger turned
    president, dating a movie star, ” said the veteran music executive
    Andre Harrell, a founder of the Nu America marketing company. “He
    is the American dream.”
    Reid, chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group, says betting
    on Jay-Z has already paid off. “He is simply the most talented
    person that I know,” Reid gushed. “He understands the music, he
    understands the culture, he understands artists. When I look at
    Jay-Z, I see a genius.”
    And yet when Jay-Z looks at himself, he sees someone who is
    doing OK. When asked what grade he would give his own efforts, in a
    rare moment of humility, he settled on a C.
    True, he has had modest success with acts like the R&B singer
    Bobby Valentino and the ingenues Rhianna, whose single “Pon de
    Replay” was one of the summer’s hits, and Teairra Mari. He is also
    proud of the gangster rapper Young Jeezy, an Atlanta-based phenom
    whose debut album, “Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101,” entered
    the Billboard chart at No. 2 earlier this month, selling 176,000
    copies in its first week.
    But Jay-Z largely blames himself for the lackluster sales of new
    albums by Memphis Bleek and the Young Gunz, both signed to
    Roc-A-Fella, which Universal purchased when it hired Jay-Z last
    “Logically, I shouldn’t have put them out because the numbers —
    the video spins and radio spins — didn’t indicate that they were
    ready to go,” he said. “But me, relying on the brand, figured
    they’d do 100,000 anyway, but they didn’t. So that was a mistake.”
    Another one of his big signings, Foxy Brown, a combative female
    rapper whose career has lately faded, could also prove a mistake.
    “That’s going to be his biggest challenge,” said Elliott Wilson,
    editor of the urban music magazine XXL. “He’s going to have to
    start from scratch introducing her to a new audience.”
    And then there’s the problem of his celebrity overshadowing the
    very artists he has been hired to guide. “He’s made a habit of
    rapping on his artists’ records in the hopes that this will
    jump-start their careers — and it does draw immediate attention —
    but that’s just a shortcut,” said Erik Parker, music editor of
    Vibe magazine. “He’ll need to do real artist development to ensure
    these guys have actual long-lasting careers.”
    Jay-Z did not dress the part of the anxious young executive one
    day this month when he strolled into work — at just before 1 in the
    afternoon — wearing denim shorts, a striped polo shirt and gleaming
    white sneakers from his own Reebok shoe line, S. Carter. On his arm
    was Beyonce Knowles, the pop diva who has been his girlfriend for
    nearly two years.

    Resplendent in designer khaki short shorts, a sheer creme blouse
    and diamond-encrusted bangles, Knowles passed a portion of the
    afternoon lounging on a suede sectional couch in her beau’s office,
    languorously flipping through magazines and warmly receiving
    whoever walked in the room — in short, playing the part of first
    Meanwhile Jay-Z watched the video for Teairra Mari’s second
    single, “No Daddy,” a pseudo-public service announcement about
    the dangers of daughters growing up without fathers. Not having
    liked the first version of the video, he had ordered a reshoot.
    This time around he was pleased.
    “I like the energy,” he said as he bobbed his head to the
    Around 2, Ghostface Killer, a founding member of the defunct
    Wu-Tang Clan, showed up for a meeting. “What up, family?” Jay-Z
    said with a strong handshake and a quick man-hug.
    “I just want to dump some heat on you,” Ghostface replied.
    “It’s meaty already, but I just want you to add your little
    extra.” (Translation: I’ve got some great new music that I’d like
    you to hear and I would appreciate your input.) Jay-Z unleashed his
    signature chuckle, a high-pitched, machine-gun-like “Heh, heh,
    heh, heh, heh.”
    “Yeah,” he said, smiling. “I’m going to add the cilantro.”
    For the next hour, Jay-Z listened to nearly 20 songs, on topics
    that ranged from life in the drug game to a day at a barbershop.
    When the music ended, Ghostface started in with questions.
    Who do you see on that last record? Should a girl or someone
    like Pharrell sing the hook? And can we release it in September?
    With that last question, Jay-Z’s manner changed. “That’s not going
    to work,” he told his charge, who looked crestfallen. “You need
    the proper setup. You don’t just want to throw it out there.”
    He suggested slashing the number of songs. “In a good deal,”
    he explained, “you get paid on 12 songs. That means that everyone
    — producers, writers, etc. — all eat from that same pie. If you do
    18 songs and you have 18 producers and writers, instead of 12
    people splitting that pie — now 18 people are eating into your
    paper.” It’s a fact few artists know and even fewer executives
    share, Jay-Z said, but having been on the other side of the
    mahogany desk a scant year ago, he feels the need to enlighten
    those he’s overseeing.

    “Jeezy came in here with 23 songs and I’m like, what are you
    doing?” he recalled. “Save half those songs and go make another
    Over the course of the afternoon, Teairra Mari dropped by, as
    did the rappers Memphis Bleek, Freeway and the Young Gunz. At one
    point, the room felt less like an office and more like the VIP
    lounge at 40/40 sans the Cristal Champagne. “He wants the place to
    feel like a family environment,” said Jay Brown, a Def Jam
    Despite the convivial vibe, business somehow continued to be
    conducted. David Miller, director of international marketing,
    needed Jay-Z to squeeze another bonus track out of Kanye West for
    the Japanese release of his album “Late Registration.” “I’ll see
    what I can do,” Jay-Z said. A woman in the marketing department
    asked if he had any interest in a new video series MTV was
    starting. “They’ll take all of your videos and chop ’em up, DVD
    it, and we’ll split the profit,” she said. “Do you like the
    concept?” He declined. Up next, his in-house publicist, Jana
    Fleishman, wanted to know if he’d appear on the cover of a downtown
    fashion magazine. Flipping through the book’s glossy pages, he
    said, “I’ll ask my artsy friends about it first and get back to
    By 5 it was time to talk numbers with Tru Life and his lawyer,
    who were waiting down the hall. “I’m supercomfortable with four”
    — $400,000 — Jay-Z told his senior vice president of finance, Joe
    Borrino. “I’m a little less comfortable with five. After that, I
    don’t want to be in that business, especially right now. Only six
    hip-hop releases have done over 150,000 this year.”
    “So,” Borrino said, “I’m going to say that we can’t go more
    than five.”
    “No, because if I was hearing you say that, then I would ask
    for five because that means I can get five,” Jay-Z explained.
    “You tell him that a typical first-time artist deal is between 400
    and 450.”
    “OK,” Borrino said, looking unsure.
    “Be confident, man,” Jay-Z said, noting Borrino’s furrowed
    brow. “If there’s a problem, come back to me, OK?”
    There was not a problem.
    Things tend to move briskly in his office. “When I got there,”
    Tru Life recalled, “they told me that if Jay liked me, I wasn’t
    going to leave the building. I thought it was a joke. I got there
    at 3 in the afternoon and I left 10 hours later.”
    When later asked about his aggressive approach, Jay-Z said:
    “It’s a competitive business. When you think someone has it,
    you’ve got to jump. I live by my instinct.”

    His day begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast and a workout. He is
    usually in the office by 11, he said, and “I’ll stay until I’m
    done or tired.” It was 7 p.m., and he was stretched out in a
    private lounge at 40/40, MTV’s prank show “Punk’d” playing in the
    background. “I know people think that this is a vanity job or that
    I’m the guy that just brings in talent and I’m out of the office
    three months a year and I only come in once in while, you know,
    like the real president” — Bush swipe noted —“but yes, I’m really

    Except, of course, when he’s out in the world, representing Def
    Jam at public events around the country. Several weeks ago, in the
    empty bar under the main floor of Hollywood’s Key Club, the label’s
    new artists — Teairra Mari, Rihanna and Ne-Yo — took turns preening
    for the cameras and “Access Hollywood” before a concert staged by
    Teen People magazine. But the way the cameramen scrambled when
    their boss strode into the bar, shortly before showtime, made clear
    who the event’s main draw really was. And he later acknowledged
    that he can use his celebrity to promote the new prospects in a way
    few if any executives can. One moment, he was reassuring Teairra
    Mari about a minor casting dispute on her new video. The next,
    people were shoving copies of his own concert DVD, “Fade to
    Black,” into his hands for him to autograph.
    His charisma plays just as a big role in the office. When he
    first arrived in January, he recalled: “I sat in on a couple of
    meetings and it was like a machine. The passion was gone. No one
    really said anything. There were no ideas.” So he set about to
    improve morale. He organized several retreats and a weeklong
    team-building exercise inspired by Donald Trump’s show “The
    Apprentice,” in which several teams competed for a $50,000 prize.
    Their task? Land a record deal for a fictional artist. He has also
    held a bowling night and a movie night at the private Manhattan
    club Soho House. And because there’s nothing like Champagne to
    bring people together, bellinis are served in the office on Friday
    He said he still finds addressing a staff a bit uncomfortable.
    “When you’re on stage it’s like: ‘What’s up, Cleveland? Wave your
    hands in the air, say ho.’ But to stand in front of people and give
    a speech and talk about the things you’re trying to do, it’s not

  2. #2
    Don't grab my jacket dunn Hollow Dartz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album


  3. #3
    aka PROFIT venex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    thanks for the info...

    Shaolin shadowboxin' and the wu-tang swordstyle...
    If what you say is true...
    The shaolin and the wu-tang could be dangerous!
    En garde, I'll let you try my wu-tang style...

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Cm0ney's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    good read

  5. #5
    Don't grab my jacket dunn Hollow Dartz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    man jay-z probaly not feelin hat shit. thats y the roc a fella nigga went copper this year!!!!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    The DEFUNCT Wu-Tang Clan?

  7. #7
    Digital @fterLife INF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    Good thread. One.

  8. #8
    Three Six Mafia CrunchyBlack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    Quote Originally Posted by OwnageNinja
    The DEFUNCT Wu-Tang Clan?
    lol...i was thinking the same thing.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    U can tell a white man wrote that article
    Walk In My Shoes, Hurt Ya Feet, Then Yall Gone Know Why I Do Dirt In The Street.

    "Shorty gimme more a u, ill take on 4 of u, plus 44 of the 48 laws for u"

    "The Future is a mystery, the past is history, today is a
    gift thats why its called the present"

    Um on 7 Mile Ridin fuckin Dirty

    Cass Corridor as well punk


  10. #10
    JOKER FAM Sicka than aidZ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album


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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    wu-tang defunct? please

    this is not a good look. didn't appreciate that story. what the fuck happen? did ghost officially sell out? now jay z is tellin him which direction to go. what the fuck. ghost should be going againts the grain, that corporate shit. let's be real he's never gonna be a superstar like jayz, cause that 's not for him. he's a lyrical chemist and should stick to his domain, which is real NY hiphop.


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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    I'm not surprised at Jay-Z tellin Ghostface how many songs he should have on the album. That shit is so typical that happens at record labels. I wish these bitch ass people at the record labels would just let the artists do their thing & stop fuckin up their careers. Ghostface knows what works for his audience.

  13. #13
    Shaolin Inc. Abbott vahacris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    jay said about producers and writers. wtf? what writers?

    i dont even want to think that ghost hire some ghostwriters...... whats the deal'y?

    ----the what you said iz truth.....wu will survive----

  14. #14
    Dolla dolla bill yaaaall! RhymzaRua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    First, Jay was speaking kinda generally to Ghost about the industry. The other thing is that there's more that goes into beats than just one producer's work, there are music writers and sometimes people actually playing instruments. Jay wasn't telling Ghost what to do, he was advising him from his own experience.

    Plus, am I the only one who thinks that a shorter album is often the better choice QUALITY-WISE as well? If it'll make the record better AND earn Ghost more cash, then why not? And it does seem like it's all Ghost's choice in the end anyway when it comes to the number of tracks on the album

  15. #15
    Dolla dolla bill yaaaall! RhymzaRua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ghostface gives Jay-Z taste of new album

    “I know people think that this is a vanity job or that
    I’m the guy that just brings in talent and I’m out of the office
    three months a year and I only come in once in while, you know,
    like the real president”

    ^^^ lol, I like that shot at bush.

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