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FACE/OFF
by kenn on 12/22/2005 04:03:00 AM

2005: WHAT IT IS
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Prez Jay-Z When news hit in January that Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter would become Def Jam Records’ new CEO, it was greeted with skepticism. The world of hip-hop entrepreneurship has always been left to the best self-promoters (P. Diddy, Russell Simmons), and as one of the most talented rappers of all time, Carter was simply overqualified. He’s succeeded as an executive, though, becoming a ubiquitous brand presence à la Oprah or Martha Stewart, rapping on hit singles by every major signing (Rhianna, Kanye West, Young Jeezy, Mariah Carey). The Big Idea is that Carter’s touch imbues normal rap ingredients with both flavor and fame. (“Master chef/lord of the kitchen cupboard,” he spits on one Jeezy track.) Carter also nailed a trifecta for artistry (launching the artist-friendly Def Jam Left imprint), business acumen (a Fortune magazine profile) and peacemaking (during the NYC station Power 105.1’s annual holiday concert, he buried the hatchet live, onstage with both Nas and P. Diddy).

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