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I was like let me get Reasonable Doubt and I’ll give up [the rest of] my masters.  I’ll give up Roc-A-Fella, I’ll give up president and CEO of Def Jam Records – everything.  Just give me my baby to hold on to so 10 years down the line, I can look back and I got something – I’m not empty-handed.  And I was the one being offered everything.  I thought it was more than fair…And when that was turned down, I had to make a choice.” –Jay-Z on his split with Dame and Biggs

 

Since the fall of a Dynasty in December of '04, Jay hasn’t taken a break.  As Def Jam's new president and CEO, his first line of business was to replenish his Roc roster with long-time friend and vet Foxy Brown and newbie songstress Teairra Mari.  His second was to vent his frustrations by dropping the remix of "Drop It Like It's Hot" with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell.  If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the last few lines of the rap taking a jab at R. Kelly although he doesn't mention the Pied Piper by name.  Shortly after, Jay filed a suit in January maintaining that the tour promoter was forced to kick Kelly off their Best of Both Worlds tour after what Jay described as a "nightmarish odyssey fueled by Kelly's financial woes, insecurities, and unsafe and unpredictable behavior."

 

Following suit, love was in the air when Jigga set Hot 97 on fire after dropping the freestyle dedicated to who else but the summer.  Not only did it leave The Game in tears, but it ultimately wound up on Memphis Bleek’s 534 album for all 100,000 people to hear.    

 

Outside of music, ‘05 found Jay teaming up with Swiss watch designer Audemars Piguet to release a limited-edition, upscale watch collection. The watches ranged from $24,000 to $100,000 each accompnanied with an iPod with all of Jay's albums already uploaded.  He also struck a deal with Topps to appear on any of its basketball trading card products.  Look for Jay, now part-owner of the New Jersey Nets, to make his trading card debut in 2005-2006 as a Rookie Card, a Relic Card and an Autographed Card.

 

Although busy, his good work didn’t go unnoticed as Jay joined the company of Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Martha Stewart in Time magazine’s special annual edition, “Time 100,” which showcases the 100 most influential people in the world today. 

 

By October, Jay opened his second 40/40 sports bar club in Atlantic City alongside girlfriend Beyonce and sent jets and limos around the country to accommodate friends like Diddy, T.I., Magic Johnson, Serena Williams and Barry Bonds. For 40/40 2, Jay took the basic design of the original club and added some new dimensions including an expanded staircase and an ESPN VIP room.

Still his biggest contribution to ’05 occurred ironically at his "Declare War" concert where he united with Nas onstage at the Continental Airlines Arena.  Luckily, the show’s surprises didn’t stop there. Long-time fueding buddies The Lox and Diddy put aside their differences long enough to perform "All About the Benjamins" and a recently released Beanie Sigel joined his State Property fam - Peedi Peedi, Freeway.  Other performances came from T.I., Young Jeezy, Kanye West and Memphis Bleek.  

 

Despite Jay maintaining the peace, it didn’t stop the lawsuits from coming.  He was hit with yet another lawsuit by R. Kelly, 2 Live Crew member Marquis Ross and former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. 

 

In the face of his legal woes, Jay proved he's no Scrooge. When millions of New Yorkers found it difficult to maneuver through the city due to the transit strike, Jigga sent out several limousines to pick up pedestrians around the city who were just trying to make it to work.  He also pulled out his personal checkbook along with Diddy to donate $1 million to the Hurricane Katrina victims.

 

In 2006, look for Jay to debut his first release from his Roc La Familia label and open a third 40/40 club in downtown L.A. And if everyone has their way, the club may be followed by a new album and a secret wedding with girlfriend Beyoncé.

 

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