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Jay-Z Talks Ditching Def Jam, New Deals: "I'm an Entrepreneur"

July 1, 2009 12:52 PM ET

Jay-Z has confirmed the destinations of his Blueprint 3 and Roc Nation label, telling Billboard that his new album will be released on Atlantic Records while the label he formed after signing a 360 deal with Live Nation is bound to Sony Music. Prior to the official announcement, it seemed like there was a bidding war between Warner Music (which houses Atlantic Records) and Sony Music to be Jigga's distributor, but the ever-entrepreneurial rapper ended up striking deals with both sides.

"Roc Nation — we're experts in marketing and making records. But we do distribution deals," Jay-Z told Billboard. "On this one [Blueprint 3], we're working directly with the Atlantic staff... For the rest of the Roc Nation artists, we did a distribution deal with Sony." Jay-Z has ties with both labels: Atlantic Records is under the jurisdiction of Warner Music CEO Lyon Cohen, who worked with Jay at Def Jam and also appears in the rapper's new "D.O.A." video. Over at Sony Music, subsidiary Epic Records is run by Amanda Ghost, who is also managed by Roc Nation. Plus, Jay's wife Beyoncé is signed to Sony Music's Columbia Records.

As Rock Daily previously reported, Jay-Z bought out his Def Jam contract for $5 million, giving him freedom to take Blueprint 3 elsewhere. As Jay-Z tells Billboard, he became increasingly frustrated by Def Jam's stodgy approach to distribution deals. "You have to figure, this is like four years ago, and to them it was just like, 'Are you crazy? No! Make a song!' " Jay said. "To me it was like, I've sold companies for huge amounts of money. I'm an entrepreneur — that's what I've been all my life. I can't just sit here and make records and not do anything else. Why wouldn't you want to do this with me? I felt under-utilized." The Blueprint 3 is out September 11th, exactly eight years to the day the rapper's original Blueprint was released.

Related Stories:
Jay-Z Recruits Harvey Keitel, LeBron James For "D.O.A." Video
Conflicting Reports Claim Jay-Z Close to New Record Deal
Jay-Z Buys Out Def Jam Contract, "Blueprint 3" Heads to Roc Nation

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Song Stories

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Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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