The two biggest questions rap fans want answered right now are: What does Jay-Z think about Cam'ron coming at him on wax? And now that Nas is on Def Jam, how do God's Son and Hova plan to smash the rap game?
First things first — Cam is holding a press conference Wednesday (January 25) in New York to discuss what the streets are calling his "beef" with Hova. As for Killa Cam's "You Got It" dis record (see "Cam'ron Attacks Jay-Z With Dis Track 'You Got It' "), Jay said he's not sure he'll respond with his own dis record. Jigga said he's never had any problems with Cam, though he admits the two never bonded while Cam was on Roc-A-Fella.
"My thing is, it's such an obvious ploy for attention and to get people to talk about it and for [Cam to] sell albums," Jay said Tuesday, speaking to MTV News from a company retreat.
Even though Jay says he knows Cam's master plan, he's conflicted. On one hand he feels he's too big to stoop to Cam's level, but on the other hand, the MC in him is itching to retort with battle raps.
"I'm torn," he admitted. "I feel like I would be stupid to even pay that any attention, because it's such a ploy. ... N---as is holding press conferences behind [the dis record]. The MC in me is like, 'That's too easy [to come back at him.]' That's not even a good dis record. That
sh-- is trash. I'm torn. We'll see what happens. Maybe on my time we'll deal with it, but I'm not really pressed. I'm inspired by good artistic sh--. Cam's sh-- is not artistic. There's nothing good about it. Everything about it is an obvious ploy to get attention. Nobody wants to get used. You're just using me. Of course he had to go that far."
One of the brow-raisers in Cam's song comes at the beginning, when he says part of his disdain for Hov came about because Jay had wronged former partner Dame Dash in their business dealings. Speaking to New York radio station WQHT-FM, Cam also said Dame had tipped him off that Jay would be coming at him during last year's "I Declare War" concert (the show turned out to be all about peace; see "Jay-Z And Nas Put Beef To Sleep In Onstage Show Of Unity").
Jay called Dame's involvement in the equation "shocking" and said he hasn't spoken with his once close friend about Cam and has no plans to. "To be honest with you, that's the most surprising thing," Jay said calmly. "I'm still in shock, to be honest with you."
No one was really surprised this week when it was announced that Nas had signed to Def Jam (see "Nas Signs With Jay-Z, According To Report"). The two had been in talks for a while and performed two nights of shows in October. Hov said there probably will not be a Jay and Nas album, but he does expect to do at least a song with Nas.
"I'm guessing like September, fall, so we can do it right," Jay said of when he expects Nas' LP to drop. Nas has been recording material for months, but Hov thinks he'll start fresh with his new deal in place. "I didn't hear the stuff he did before, but I'm guessing it'll be a new slate."
Jay added that he hopes Nas will connect with some of the best producers in the game, such as Kanye West, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Pharrell Williams, though he hasn't ruled out Nas teaming with some up-and-coming beatmakers. He said his former rival is in such a great headspace, he wouldn't be surprised if Nas made the best album of career.
"[I'm proud to have him on Def Jam] for so many different levels," he said. "One, he's been at the forefront of hip-hop since he's been out. [Illmatic] is arguably one of the best albums ever made. To have that down with the team, it's just a beautiful thing. Two, it says so much about the culture. It shows another way. [The media] always portrays us like we're ignorant. It shows another ending. I think it's bigger for the culture."
While the Nas album isn't due for several months, Jay is so excited about the albums coming out on Def Jam this year — including Ghostface Killah and LL Cool J — he contemplated dropping an album himself, but he's since rethought it and will continue to play the executive role.
And it's a part he's been playing to the fullest. Jay's team is on the brink of adding one or two more major players, but it's too early to name names, he said.
Check out the feature "Jay-Z Takes Over," an MTV News exclusive where Hov discusses Nas, Cam, Dame — and being a CEO/MC.