Less than a month after Jay-Z was accused of stabbing hip-hop label executive Lance "Un" Rivera, the Brooklyn, N.Y., rapper will release Vol. 3 ... Life and Times of S. Carter Tuesday.
But the drama surrounding Jay-Z (born Shawn Carter) and Rivera probably won't influence album sales, according to observers.
"[Jay-Z] talks about the street life in his music, so in a strange way [the alleged stabbing] validates that," the assistant manager for New York underground hip-hop store Fat Beats, who gave his name as Seein-I, said. "The attention will just help the record sell better. Platinum, he's gonna shoot with the double on that."
Irv Gotti, who produced the song "Watch Me," which features a Dr. Dre cameo, predicted big sales for both Jay-Z's album and for DMX's
"They street and they raw, but they know how to differentiate songs," Gotti said of the two rappers earlier this month.
Jay-Z's new album, his fourth, is the follow-up to 1998's quadruple-platinum Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life, which last year became the first hip-hop record to spend five consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. That LP, which won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, featured the hit single "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Money Ain't a Thang."
Vol. 3 continues its predecessor's relentless, drum-heavy approach. The songs plow ahead without much melody as Jay-Z and his guests including singer Mariah Carey and rappers Juvenile, Memphis Bleek and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott drive home the lyrics.
Gang Starr's DJ Premier adds his production skills to "So Ghetto," a tenacious, piano-based composition that gives Jay-Z the chance to flex his lyrical skills and give free rein to his penchant for battle rapping.
Timbaland, known for his collaborations with Elliott, produced several tracks on the album, including "Snoopy Track," on which New Orleans rapper Juvenile appears. Juvenile's Tha G-Code debuted at #10 on last week's Billboard 200 albums chart.
The first single off Vol. 3, "Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)," produced by Rockwilder, features rappers Beanie Sigel and Amil. The song, which begins with Cream-style acid-rock guitar, bursts into a humongous, pulverizing drum beat, offset by electronic effects.
The rappers describe their hour-by-hour adventures in clubland. Jay-Z talks about taking a girl home and "diggin' her out," only to be "kickin' her out" at 6:15 a.m. Using the same format, Amil describes taking a guy home, only to have him prove impotent.
Other titles on the new album include "S. Carter," "That Thing U Do" and "Is That Yo Bitch," on which Elliott appears.
Rivera, the head of Untertainment Records, was stabbed in the back and the chest Dec. 1 during a fight at a listening party at the Kit Kat Club in New York for rapper Q-Tip's solo debut, Amplified, according to police.
Jay-Z, who had held his own listening party earlier the same night in New York, was arrested the next day and charged with two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault related to the attack on Rivera as well as two earlier attacks on different people, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court.
The rapper's labels, Roc-a-Fella and Def Jam, issued a statement denying he attacked Rivera.
He was freed after posting $50,000 bail and is due back in court Jan. 31.
The New York Daily News and Newsweek quoted anonymous sources as saying Jay-Z was upset at Rivera for distributing pirated copies of Vol. 3.
Spokespersons for Rivera and Jay-Z have not commented on the incident since.
Rivera co-produced the song "Dope Man" for the new album. In the album's liner notes, Rivera is the only producer whom the rapper does not thank.
(SonicNet's Eisso Mansvelt Beck contributed to this report.)