With a wealth of talent like Cam'ron and the Diplomats and Beanie Sigel's State Property collective bolstering the Roc-A-Fella roster in less than a year, Jay-Z can afford to take some time off every now and then, like he did for a recent trip to the South of France. But the Jiggaman, who just came back to the States after a month away, says don't expect him to be taking any permanent vacations.
"My retirement is not based on Roc-A-Fella as a company," said Jay, who's dropped hints in the past about hanging it up. "I don't put out an album every year to meet a quota, I put out an album every year because I love to make music and that's what I was feeling at the time. But it's definitely nice to know that you have young artists, so if I decided I wanted to come to the South of France for two years I can do that."
Jay is heading back into the studio soon, possibly with Timbaland and Tone of the Trackmasters, to finish up The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse.
"I started [before I went on vacation]," he disclosed. "I did seven joints when I started this one. I got some new producers, I always gotta bring out the new talent as far as production. The new guys hit the drum machine, I think they hit it hard."
Jay is also impressed with the way Freeway hit the mic for his debut, Philadelphia Freeway, which has been pushed back from August to October.
"I think Free is amazing," he said. "Free is a major talent. The Young Guns are growing, but they're going to be a problem. Oskino and Sparks are still in the growing stages, but Free is there right now."
Freeway and several other members of the Roc-A-Fella family are going on the road with Jay, as Young Hov co-headlines the eclectic Sprite Liquid Mix Tour, which starts in New York on August 20 (see "Jay-Z Invites 311, Hoobastank On Tour With Mos Def, De La Soul"). Co-main attraction 311 and openers Nappy Roots, Hoobastank, N.E.R.D., and Talib Kweli will also be featured on the outing.
Before inking the deal with the Liquid Mix Tour, Jay was supposed to be a part of the now- defunct Triple Threat Tour with Ja Rule and P. Diddy. He chalks that up to the timing not being right (see "Jay-Z, Ja Rule, P. Diddy Planned Triple Threat Tour Then Bagged It").
"When it first started out I was gonna do the tour," Jay detailed. "I pulled out to start the album. I was like, 'I'm in a cool space right now.' Ja and Puff were supposed to go on tour together, they had the dates lined up. His road manager asked me for a couple of acts. So I'm thinking they going on tour. In my mind everything's sealed. That's fine, they gonna go do their tour, I'm like, 'Cool, they got the dates, they gonna go out in August. I'm gonna go do a Sprite run real quick, a little warm-up for my album.' Their tour didn't happen, so it looks like ... I don't know how it looks to them, but that's the truth of the matter."
"I had Ja cancel tours and cancel getting a lot of money for that Triple Threat Tour," Murder Inc. boss Irv Gotti said of the failed outing. "Everything was a go, we signed off and [Jay] pulled off at the last minute. I respect whatever reasons he pulled out for, and at the end of the day he's still my brother. Me and the dude are real tight."
For a full-length feature on Murder Inc. and Irv Gotti, check out "Murder Inc.: In Gotti We Trust."