Part 2: Jay-Z Talks Exit Rumors, Grammys, 360 Deals

Part two of Billboard's conversation with Def Jam president Jay-Z.

Continued from previous page:

It sounds like THE party to be at will be Dec. 30 in Las Vegas when you launch another 40/40 Club in The Palazzo.

I'm very excited about that. The club is right there on the strip, and it's our third in four years. Macau is next and then Singapore. We were working with Magic Johnson on a 40/40 in Los Angeles but it never materialized. So we moved on to Las Vegas. We hope to start building in Macau in 2008 and maybe open it at the end of '08 or the beginning of '09.

That night you're also staging a show whose vibe is reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and the heyday of the Rat Pack.

As far as the show, we're talking about white tuxedos, the whole bit. Hopefully, I can persuade some people to come out and capture the whole feel of it; bring out the Roots and have them do some creative things. We want to add our twist on it: the new version of the Rat Pack.

So, what about the all the rumors that you're leaving Def Jam?

The rumors are about only because my contract is up. If we can work something out that's beneficial to all parties involved, we'll see. But it's not 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. 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.

Do you enjoy being an executive or do you love being an artist more?

I'm an artist first; that is my first love. However, being an executive is fun because it's a different way of being creative. You still have your hand in setting the tone and in what the culture is hearing and following. It's just that someone else is driving the wheel.

Will there be a new Jay-Z album next year?

(Laughs heartily) If I'm inspired. To be honest, I've been thinking about that lately. I have one album left on my contract, and then I've really come full circle.

This is all hypothetical but I've been thinking on the fly: I have one album left, right? If I'm inspired to make that album, then my contract is done and I'm not in the music business anymore as far as being an artist. I can still make music. But how I reach people with that music ... I can do anything with it at that point. It's kind of exciting in a way. I'm not in the music business so I can drop a single every month. Who knows? The possibilities are endless -- and without any pressure to sell anything. I could make whatever and do whatever with my music. Maybe the songs would just play in 40/40.

Which hip-hop artist has got next?

I don't know. The obvious choice would be Lil' Wayne. That's on the front of everyone's mind unless you don't include Kanye in the equation. I think everyone would agree that Wayne is the closest.

What other projects are on your to-do list?

Maybe produce a couple of movies. As far as acting goes, though, that's not really my thing. "Fade to Black" was pretty much a concert movie. I haven't produced any real movies. I'm talking something with some real acting and drama to it.

Is there anyone you still want to work with?

There are new artists sprouting up all the time. I just like creative people. I'm riding with that Feist album right now. Her voice is so distinctive and beautiful. And Amy [Winehouse], I'd love to work with her again. I hope she keeps herself together. Her voice is so incredible. I'm really drawn to voices. That's my thing.