So What Is Jay-Z Up To, Anyway?

noah | May 28, 2009 12:00 pm

Last week, it came to light that Jay-Z had bought the rights to his long-in-the-works album The Blueprint 3 back from Def Jam, the label where he served as president from 2004-2007. The album was his final commitment to his Def Jam contract, and he’s now free to put it out on his Live Nation-backed imprint Roc Nation. In the past 24 hours, two stories regarding the fate of both Blueprint 3 and Jay’s newly minted label have emerged, with one saying that Jay is going to partner with Epic Records and another claiming that he’s going to enter the warm embrace of Warner Music Group. Which tale sounds more believable? An armchair analysis after the jump. THE DETAILS Billboard: Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label would partner with Epic in a distribution scheme not unlike the one the Neptunes have struck between their label, Star Trak, and Interscope. NYDN: Roc Nation would be distributed by Warner, and Jay would get another label called the Carter Music Group. ADVANTAGE: Billboard. While Jay-Z’s deal with Live Nation does necessitate him finding a partner for the purposes of releasing recorded efforts, something about Warner Music Group’s overpromising doesn’t sit right to these ears–especially since you’d think they’d put their newfound liquidity toward a bigger deal. (Maybe the reporter just heard something wrong?) THE CONNECTIONS Billboard: “Given his close relationship with [Columbia Records Co-Chairman] Rick Rubin, it comes as no surprise that he’d make the switch,” a Universal mole told the trade pub’s Mariel Concepcion. Plus, Beyoncé is on Sony. And Roc Nation manages Epic Records president Amanda Ghost! NYDN: “Old pals and former managers” Lyor Cohen and Kevin Lilles are at Warner, and a source is claiming that Jay “wants to get the dream team back together.” ADVANTAGE: Billboard, no doubt. Love is thicker than teams of dreams. THE BOTTOM LINE Billboard: Joining his lady friend underneath a corporate umbrella, strengthening ties with one of his management clients, and allowing Rubin to save at least a little face? It sounds like a win all around. NYDN: Whatever’s happening between Jay and WMG is happening “very privately,” which reads like code for “sort of being hinted at.” ADVANTAGE: Jay-Z himself. Negotiating via people in the know speaking to the press is often a masterful tactic, even if it does result in overly caffeinated online outlets hopping on their Jump To Conclusions Mats and not realizing that Live Nation was going to need a partner to distribute any recorded music the artists that they (admittedly foolishly) signed to those 360 deals when times were more flush. Jay-Z Close To Epic Records Deal [Billboard] Jay-Z eyeing move to Warner Music Group after split from Def Jam [NY Daily News]