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FEATURE ARTICLE

 
2007 JAY-Z

 

"Without a #1 record, I'm the number-one man ... I'm so cool, I'm my number-one fan/ ... Now I'm standing on Elvis' blue suede shoes, 'cause I'm #1 again."  - Jay-Z on tying Elvis for the most career #1 albums

 

Claim to Fame:  American Gangster

 

If this was the year of T.I. v Tip, 2007 was certainly the year of Jay-Z v the world. 

 

Fresh off the release of 2006ís underwhelming Kingdom Come, hip-hop heads doubted Jay-Zís skills and even questioned if the rapper should have emerged out of retirement.  Labeled as Kingdom Done, Hov took hits from Camíron, Jim Jones and even Lil Wayne Ė yes the same Lil Wayne who later teamed with the rapper in 2007.  Even more damaging were the hits he took as President of label giant Def Jam. 

 

In all honesty, Jay-Z's presidential term did have its fair share of misses. Ghostface Killah, Method Man and even his own Roc-A-Fella artists Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and the Young Gunz all had difficulties getting their latest projects off the ground.

 

Many of the problems Def Jam releases have experienced could be attributed to meager marketing and promotion. LL Cool J, Jay's most vocal detractor the past couple of years, maintains Hov was only focused on himself as an artist and wasn't handling business in the rap Oval Office.

 

So how did Hov become triumphant?  He went back to the basics.  He dropped his suit and tie and released American Gangster, inspired by the Denzel Washington film of the same name which depicts the life of heroin kingpin Frank Lucas. In other words, hints of the old Reasonable Doubt Jay emerged putting doubters to shame. 

While the album didnít reach the numbers of fellow rapper Kanye West, Jay created his own history.  American Gangster opened at #1, tying him with Elvis for most career #1 albums of any artist except the Beatles.

 

Still, planning his comeback year didnít stop him from making mega business deals. In March Jay-Z reached an agreement to sell his Roc-A-Wear clothing line to the Iconix Brand Group for a reported $204 million in cash. As a part of the deal, he also entered into a new deal to launch the Shawn Carter Collection, an upscale luxury brand set to debut in 2008.  Months later, he acquired Artful Dodger after paying $15 million for the apparel company. "They represent what's next and new in fashion," Jay-Z said in a statement. He even expanded his 40/40 sports club to sin City. 

 

It seems 2007 didnít harm his love life either.  After five years, the two appeared to be stronger than ever.  Spotted laughing at Nets game and lip-locking on a private Italian vacation, not even rumors of an illegitimate child could break their union.  He even answered that now old question of just when heís going to make an honest woman of Beyonce.  "One day soon ó let's leave it at that," Jay confessed in a press conference. 

 

But perhaps, his biggest revenge is yet to come Ė especially with all the free time heíll have on his hands. 

In December, the iconic-rapper-turned-record-exec announced that he will step down from his post as president and CEO of Def Jam Records.

 

"It's time for me to take on new challenges," he reportedly said in a statement.

 

Read Class Superlatives

 



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