Late last month, on the set of his video for "Change Clothes," Jay-Z didn't know that a couple of weeks later the world would be hearing his entire new album a lot sooner than expected.
At the time, Jigga was getting love on the set from the likes of Beyoncé, Memphis Bleek, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, Naomi Campbell and Russell Simmons, and he was excited to be talking about the first two sanctioned releases from the The Black Album: "Change Clothes" and "What More Can I Say." (Click for photos from the set of the "Change Clothes" video.)
"We got our Snoop and Dre on right now," Jay said of the chemistry between him and Pharrell, who produced and sings on "Change Clothes" (see "Jay-Z, Hungry Pharrell, Ankle-Braceleted Beanie Shoot 'Change Clothes' Video"). "We both really love the music. When we do get in the studio, it ain't about nothing else but what feels good. We're not scared to try nothing. This ['Change Clothes'] sounds like an '80s Cameo record or something."
On "What More Can I Say," which is in rotation at radio and on mixtapes, Jay tells everybody that his rap résumé should solidify him as the greatest on the mic.
"I just wanted to capture that emotion, I been doing this hard," he said of the street single. "Ten albums, outside guest appearances, soundtracks — I don't ever get to a point when I'm just making music to make money. I love it too much for that. I love when other people make hot albums. I love listening to hot stuff outside of my own stuff, just as a fan. I just wanted to vent. What more can I say to you? I've done it all."
In the process of doing it all, it looks like he might have rubbed Busta Rhymes the wrong way. In some of his last words on "What More Can I Say," Jay raps: "And no, I ain't get shot up a whole bunch of times/ Or make up sh-- in a whole bunch of lines/ And I ain't animated like, say, a Busta Rhymes/ But the real sh-- you get when you bust down my lines."
Two weeks ago on New York radio station WQHT-FM (Hot 97), the DJ Kay Slay said Busta had hand delivered him a dis track, "You a Memory," aimed at Jay-Z as retaliation for "What More Can I Say." That same morning, Busta — who raps, "Hey di--head n---a, can't you see?/ You's a g--damn fool for trying to go against me" on the cut — called in and denied telling Slay his words were for Hova. He told the listeners he didn't call out any names and that his verse was a general battle rap.
Slay has since reiterated his stance on the controversy, via his new mixtape, The Drama Hour Pt. 7: If You Scared Get a Dog.
On Wednesday, while visiting MTV, Jay clarified his lyrics. "I'm pretty sure it's clear what I was saying," Jay vented. "C'mon now. Everybody is being too sensitive. It's very clear that I'm saying that's not my strong point as far as [what] Busta [does]. ... The level of excitement that he brings to the stage, that's not my strong point. Anybody that responds to that or takes that [the wrong] way is being overly sensitive."
Due to leaks, The Black Album has been bumped up to a November 14 release date (see "Jay-Z's Black Album Coming Sooner Than Planned").