Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter will step down as Def Jam Records president when his contract expires this year, he and Universal Music Group announced today (Dec. 24). The rapper will continue to record for Roc

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter will step down as Def Jam Records president when his contract expires this year, he and Universal Music Group announced today (Dec. 24). The rapper will continue to record for Roc-A-Fella, the label he co-founded in 1996, which is part of the Universal-distributed Island Def Jam Music Group.

In a statement announcing his departure, Jay-Z acknowledged the artists and executives he had worked with during his three years as label president, including IDJ chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid.

He added, "It's time for me to take on new challenges. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy, helping to move the company into a new era of artistic success."

Reid stated, "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 ... While he will continue to be one of our signature artists, he will nonetheless be missed in this executive capacity."

In an interview earlier this month with Billboard, Jay-Z 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. Because going in hard making records with artists and throwing those records into a system that's flawed is not exciting for me."

"It's not the music; people ingest music the same way. It's just that the model of selling CDs has changed," he continued. "So doing things the typical way is not in the best interests of anyone and not exciting for me. My whole thing is, how do we invest in the future? If everyone is committed to doing that, then I'm sure there's a deal to be made."