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Jay-Z: Officially Leaving Def Jam Records

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By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices

It was announced the day before Christmas that Jay-Z will, indeed, part ways with Def Jam Records.

Universal Music Group made the news official on Monday that the hip-hop mogul and rapper will be "stepping down as president" of the storied record label, effective by the end of the year.

The near 40-year-old, self-proclaimed former drug dealer cum urban music czar has been at the helm of the Russell Simmons-founded record company since 2005, and has been credited with signing acts such as Rihanna and Ne-Yo.

Mega-newsmaker Kanye West, and legal problem prone rapper Beanie Sigel are also recognized as Jay-Z discoveries -- both carry-over acts from when his Roc-A-Fella Records label folded into Def Jam shortly before he became president.



According to Reuters, Universal said the Brooklyn native (legally known as Shawn Carter) will continue recording for its Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam label.

Though there were recent reports of terse contract negotiations,the company did not give a reason for his decision to leave his executive seat.

"Now it's time for me to take on new challenges," Jay-Z said in a statement. "I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy."

In a recent interview with Billboard, the four-time Grammy Award winner said any decision about his future with Def Jam would not be "about money."

"It's really about trying to invest in the future, trying to invest in maybe coming up with a new model," he explained. "Because going in hard making records with artists and throwing those records into a system that's flawed is not exciting for me."

"Jay made it clear to us that he feels the time has come to take on different challenges in his life. While we regret his decision to move on, we certainly respect it," said Antonio "L.A." Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam. "While he will continue to be one of our signature artists, he will nonetheless be missed in this executive capacity."

Jay-Z, who recently topped the charts with his new opus 'American Gangster,' will reportedly focus on his expanding franchise of 40/40 Nightclubs over the next year and other businesses, according to a source familiar with his plans.


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