It doesn't get any flyer than chillin' in Monaco with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick — which Jay-Z did last year for his "Show Me What You Got" video. But for his fans, you really can't beat the nostalgic feel-good vibe of seeing Hov back in New York at the 40/40 Club with his crew.
Yes, the "Roc Boys" — Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Freeway ... you know the gang — assembled at Jigga's Manhattan haven of cool a couple of Fridays ago to shoot his latest video, for "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is ...)." Mariah Carey, Nas, Zab Judah and Diddy were also among those partying.
"The 'Roc Boys' is the height of celebration," Jay said Tuesday night at West Hollywood, California's House of Blues a few hours before the kickoff of his short tour. He's hitting a handful of cities to promote his just-released American Gangster album, which includes "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is ...)" as well as "No Hook" and "Ignorant Sh--."
"You can't celebrate by yourself, so I invited all these great people to be a part of the video," he added. "It just felt like a celebration. ... It was natural."
If you haven't heard about Jay's latest musical venture, your head was probably buried under a pile of bricks. American Gangster is an album with a linear story, inspired in part by the movie of the same name. He previously told MTV News he wants to
shoot his own movie for the album somewhere down the line, and that he plans to "shoot [the 'Roc Boys' clip so that] I can add scenes from it into the movie."
On Tuesday night, Jay said he hasn't had the opportunity to play the album for his friend, "American Gangster" star Denzel Washington, but he is more interested in hearing what one of the Oscar winner's children has to say.
"More for [one of his sons], because he follows my career. Me and [Denzel] are very cool, but his son is a huge fan," Jay explained. "I think [his son] is gonna be at the show tonight as well."
Jay's album came out Tuesday along with new projects by Cassidy and Chris Brown. If Hov is able to make it to that #1 spot next week when the SoundScan numbers come in, he will be tied with Elvis Presley for second-most #1 albums. The Beatles' 19 eclipses them both, though.
His chances of doing just that looked increasingly likely late Wednesday, when Billboard revealed early American Gangster sales figures. He was in first place on Nielsen SoundScan's Building Chart with unweighted sales of 179,000.
"It's a great thing," he smiled. "It's a nod to the consistency and truth throughout my music. All those #1 albums I had, I never had a #1 hit." Jay was likely referring to Billboard's Hot 100, which he indeed has never topped — the closest he came was with " '03 Bonnie & Clyde" (featuring Beyoncé), which reached #4.
"So it wasn't one song that drove people to buy these albums," he continued. It was the stance and position that I took, that people took too. These [albums] are not being driven by a #1 record, they are being driven by an artist, body of work and a message."
Other than potentially tying Elvis, Jay says his chart position next week "doesn't matter to me. I made a great piece of work. First-week numbers are just that: one week."
While Jay was unsure about how well the album will do, he also revealed he isn't sure what he'll put out for the next American Gangster single.
"I don't know what happens for the next single," he told. "It can be 'Party Life' or 'I Know,' but if I never shoot another single, I wanted to make sure this lives inside [my] movie.
"Some records will never be seen on a major network, like 'Pray,' " he continued. "It's so visual. It needs to be seen [somewhere]."