How does Jay-Z feel about his official coming-out-of-retirement album? Initially, Hov said he felt like it might not happen.
"I spent about a week, maybe two weeks in the studio. I wouldn't do anything," he said recently in Africa about the initial sessions for his Kingdom Come LP, due November 21 (see "Jay-Z's 'Retirement' Is Finally Over: New Album Due In November"). "I was just feeling it out. Then I said, 'Well maybe I'm not gonna do this.' One week later, I had about six songs. I was like, 'OK, it's on now.' Nothing felt rushed, nothing felt forced. [Each song] was all coming out more amazing than the last song. It was so easy. I just had a flood of ideas. I'm used to putting out albums every eight months, and I had a flood of material. I was like, 'It's time.' "
Jay got beats from the best of the best for the new album. Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Just Blaze and Coldplay's Chris Martin all contributed — but Hov said he didn't actually have any of the esteemed producers in the studio with him.
"With this one, I didn't record with anyone. I didn't record with one producer," he said. "I went in with Timbaland, but we wound up using the stuff he sent me. With Dre ... our phone conversations were the studio session. Same with Chris Martin. He sent me these wonderful chords one day, and he said he knew they were good because he almost didn't tell me about them. He was gonna keep them for himself. For one second, he said, 'I'm not sending this to him.' With Kanye, same thing, he dropped the track off.
"Swizz, Just Blaze — Just always comes late. 'Show Me What You Got' was pretty much the next to last record made," Jay noted (see "Start The 'Show': Jay-Z's Trumpet-Filled Comeback Single Leaks Online" and "Jay-Z Rides With Dale Earnhardt Jr., Races Danica Patrick In Comeback Clip").
Jay is still on his Global Express World Tour, which is headed for Bangkok. He just spent several days in Africa, and he said it definitely opened his eyes.
"Incredible experience," he said. "One I'll never forget."
He also had some advice for black Americans.
"The first thing I would say is you have to go home [to Africa], you have to go and understand what's going on and embrace your people," he said. "The second thing I would tell people is: You're not from the 'hood. Just stop saying that altogether. You have a wonderful life. You turn on the water, the water is there. You got AC, and you have AC in your car. You're good. You're not from the 'hood. It's mind-blowing. It just puts things in perspective when people say, 'I had it rough coming up.' "