NEW YORK — Hey, if Madison Square Garden can let 300-pound wrestlers fight in bloody steel-cage matches, they can let Jay-Z rock the mic there, too. Especially if Russell Simmons has his back.
On Wednesday morning (September 24) at MSG, Jay-Z and Simmons held a press conference formally addressing the media about the November 25 benefit concert starring Young Hova. (Click for photos from the press conference. )
“This is hot, this is a great day,” Hova said. “I’m just happy to bring hip-hop back to Madison Square Garden. It’s a great place.”
Proceeds from the show go to Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. Jay-Z’s show is the first hip-hop concert at Madison Square Garden in several years, and if it were up to the night’s headliner, the concert would have taken place a whole lot sooner.
“Forever!” Jay said backstage after the press conference about how long he’s been trying to take to the stage at MSG. “I mean, that’s a dream for any artist to perform at the Garden. Me being from Brooklyn, it just means that much more to me.”
And while the November 25 show will help charitable causes, the concert will also be the final pre-hype festivity in anticipation of Jay’s The Black Album, which drops on Black Friday, November 28 (see “Jay-Z Taking It ‘Way Back To The Roots’ On New Album” ). Hov began to seriously record the album on September 4 and said he’ll be done by a self-imposed deadline of October 1.
“I’mma put 12 records on there,” he said about the project’s progress. “I got about 11 or 12 [songs] and I think 70 percent [of those records] is gonna make it. So I would say I’m 70 percent done.”
So far Jay’s been working with producers Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin, Kanye West and Just Blaze. Things have been going so well with the producers he’s chosen thus far that he’s altered his initial plan to have 12 different producers for the 12 tracks on the LP. “I don’t know how that’s gonna turn out,” he said. “When I got in there, I vibed with Pharrell. We did about three or four songs. I got in there with Kanye, I did the record with Rick. I’m bringing Timbaland in now. We’ll see how the [Dr.] Dre thing works out. I don’t want to compromise the sound of the album or the integrity of the music just to stick to that plan.
“I thought it was a wonderful, brilliant thing,” he added. “But if I get in there with a producer and we vibe and we make more than one song, I don’t want to take the song off just so I could put on 12 different producers.”
Another game plan Jay had early on was to not follow his own blueprint and actually compose songs the conventional way — on paper instead of in his head. But that idea was eventually scrapped.
“Music is feeling,” he said. “At the beginning of this album that’s how I started, that was my thought, ‘I’m gonna make this album perfect. I’m gonna actually sit down and write it.’ But it’s music and it’s built off a vibe. I just vibe with the music.”
Jigga has a great feeling about a track on the album that may be the first single, but he wants to hold off a little longer before making his final decision.
“I don’t know if tomorrow I’ll make another one to top this one,” he rationalized. “But it’s something serious. It’s hot.”
Jay’s decided not to include any guests on his new LP, but hinted at a bevy of surprise appearances during his November 25 show.
Besides The Black Album, Jay is releasing an all-black version of his S. Carter Collection sneaker, and his autobiography, “The Black Book,” is slated to come out early next year (see “Jay-Z To Share His ‘Black Book’ With The World” ).
“I should be getting a draft any day now,” he said of the tome. “I don’t have any secrets. [The book will include] maybe things that didn’t rhyme, that couldn’t make the songs, the thought process behind some of the albums or some of the decisions that’s made.”