Magazine article The New Yorker

Top Down; Pop Notes

Magazine article The New Yorker

Top Down; Pop Notes

Article excerpt

After releasing "The Black Album," in 2003, Jay-Z claimed to be retiring from rapping, which seemed to mean that he would keep rapping all the time. On November 21, he will officially end this farcical retirement when he releases "Kingdom Come," on Def Jam records. Since Jay-Z is also the president and C.E.O. of Def Jam, it is a peculiar, if not exactly unprecedented, event (Herb Alpert co-founded A&M records in 1962 and had hits on the label throughout the decade).

A song from the album, "Show Me What You Got," leaked to the Internet in early October. Jay-Z begins with an apology"What you want me to do? I'm sorry. I'm back"but he doesn't sound very sorry. He sounds like Jay-Z, confident and slick, the "Mike Jordan of re-cording" that he claims to be in verse number one. This sangfroid is exactly what made him famous in the first place. As with other powerful figures, Jay-Z's calm is even more conspicuous given the frenetic activity surrounding him, which in this case is a glorious stream of horns and drums created by producer Just Blaze, who samples nineteen-seventies recordings by the Lafayette Afro Rock Band and Johnny Pate that were originally (and legendarily) sampled by Public Enemy and Wreckx-n-Effect. …

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