Jay-Z Speaks Out About Def Jam Job, Linkin Park And Nas

Rap mogul says collaboration with his onetime nemesis isn't likely.

They looked like the Three Amigos on Tuesday: Jay-Z and Linkin Park's Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda sitting up, chopping it up, in a lounge in the studios of New York radio station K-Rock.

They spoke about how Jay was blown away as soon as he heard Shinoda's idea to mash it up and how they made hulking biker dudes stand on their chairs and gleefully high-five each other during their second performance together. The topic of business was broached, too, and Jay explained why he thinks he'll be a successful president and CEO of Def Jam (see "Jay-Z, Dame Dash Sell Roc-A-Fella Records; Jay Named Def Jam Prez").

"I think artists will relate to me 'cause I know their story," he said. "I share some of the same struggles they have, possibly more. These people were signed. I never got signed to a major label. I had to start my own label. I been through all those hardships, from not being able to get a deal to putting out a record that didn't work. I worked around all that. I see it more as being a coach who's been on the field and the players will respect me 'cause I'm speaking their language."

Jay's team at the house that Russell Simmons built recently lost one of its major star performers. According to his spokesperson, Cam'ron, who dropped his Purple Haze LP on December 7, has parted ways with not only Roc-A-Fella, but with Def Jam entirely. He's now a free agent.

"That was something that was going on before I got there," Jay said of Killa's departure. "I don't even know where it stands. That was something that was happening before me signing."

While he now wears an executive hat, Young Hov of course continues to shine in his original profession as "the greatest rapper alive." His Collision Course project with Linkin Park went gold in just two weeks. Jay said recording that album wasn't too different from putting together another #1 LP he had just a couple of months ago: Unfinished Business, the second Best of Both Worlds LP with R. Kelly (see "Jay-Z, R. Kelly Still Together — At Top of Billboard Albums Chart").

"Both in the beginning were done on a professional level, even with Best of Both Worlds," Jay said. "I just like to get in with talented people who're professional and work fast. At least [Linkin Park] worked fast with me — I don't know how they usually work. They're cool guys."

"It's still time for drama between us," laughed Delson, alluding to Jay's well-publicized fallout with Kelly (see "R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z For $75 Million, Claims Sabotage"). "The record just came out. Something might go down, you never know. Just don't close the door on that possibility."

Later, a more serious Delson said of his squad's work with the Jigga Man, "I think as artists we're really just inspired to push the envelope and do something different. That's what's exciting about great art or great music, when you combine something in a new way or do something people said couldn't be done. I think Collision Course is that kind of project. When you hear it, it just sounds right."

Could there be another collaboration on the horizon for Jay? While P.O.D. have shown interest in securing his flow for their next LP (see "If Linkin Park Are Done With Him, P.O.D. Want To Borrow Jay-Z"), the streets have also been abuzz with talk about Jay-Z and Nas going into the studio together. A couple of years ago, MTV asked Jay-Z about the possibility, and he immediately closed the door on what was at the time the mother of what-if collaborations. In the past, Nas has also said he wouldn't make a record with Jay (see "Nas Vs. Jay-Z: Grade-A Beef"). Well, as time passes, minds change — at least for one of them.

Nas has told members of his circle and recently revealed on New York radio station Hot 97 that he's put the beef behind him and would in fact rhyme alongside Jay-Z under the right circumstances.

"I don't know," Jay said of the possible dream pairing. "It didn't happen before there was beef. What we went through was something musical. I don't wish any ill will; I wish the guy the best of luck. But there wasn't collaborations before anything happened, so why would it happen after? Right?"

When it was suggested that a Jay-Z/ Nas album would be a tremendous way to start his reign at Def Jam, Jay laughed and said, "I might have to get you a job up there. Let's think about it, now! Let's not cancel it out. I'll get back to y'all."

Wednesday evening in Lower Manhattan, Nas didn't seem as open as he had been on the radio when asked again about a tag-team effort with Jay.

"I mean, at this point people would like to see a lot of things," Nas said. "Let's let that be what it is. I can't really bring nothing good to that conversation. I'm happy. I hope everybody else is happy. I've got too many other things I've got to do right now. That conversation is what happens on every street corner all day long. So God bless everybody."