News: "[Jay-Z] Wants To Be Seen As A True Artist, Not The Richest Guy In Hip-Hop"

Monday, Mar 19, 2012 5:00PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

The Roots' drummer Questlove recently opened up about rap mogul Jay-Z's three-year run as Def Jam president and explained why Young Hov wanted them to maintain their sound, even if it meant risking mainstream appeal.

According to Quest, Jay felt it was more important if The Roots' kept true to their sound rather than change for a few more record sales.

When Jay-Z was president of Def Jam, he signed The Roots to the label and told them to maintain their sound and integrity, even if it meant fewer sales. "(Jay-Z) didn't want to be known as the bad guy that killed The Roots," Questlove said. I told Jay, "Like man, that would be nice to have all my records debut at No. 1 and stuff." But he's like, "Yeah, but you're just looking at that. I got to deal with beef with this cat and that cat. Every year some rapper's going to take a potshot and I got to take the gloves out the closet and start training." ... And (Jay-Z) sees me as an artist making my dream come true. Like, he wants to be seen as a true artist, not the richest guy in hip-hop. Meanwhile, I would like 13 zeros in my account." (CBS News)

After Jay's run as Def Jam president ended in 2008 and underwent a couple changes, a new president was officially announced last week.

"As we look to expand Def Jam and our creative urban music activities even further, there is no one better to lead them than Joie [Manda]," said Mr. Weiss. "He has emerged as one of the most respected young executives in today's Urban music landscape, possessing all the qualifications and experience that are essential to run Def Jam, the world's most important hip-hop destination. The entire Def Jam family looks forward to working closely with Joie as he puts his unique imprint on the next chapter in the label's storied and successful history." (Statement)

Discussing his close bond with Hov, Quest recently broke the news of Jay having Roc Nation protege, Jay Electronica's, debut LP nearly ready for retail.

"I told Jay, 'You ain't getting that record until 2015,' and he hit me like, 'I got the record, I got the record,' I'm like, 'You're not releasing that record until 2015.' ... Actually, Jay, Shawn Carter, has the record, listens to it constantly. He says it's his favorite record of 2012. He said it has no singled on it though. But it's his favorite record. [Is it on Def Jam?] No, he signed Jay Electronica. He's on Roc Nation. Jay wants a single." (The Champs)

Last month, Quest assisted the rap mogul in taking over New York City's renowned Carnegie Hall for a concert.

Nas joined Jay-Z and Alicia Keys on stage earlier in the night, performing both of their NYC anthems: "Empire State of Mind" and "N.Y. State of Mind." Jay stepped off stage as Nas and Alicia Keys performed his Billboard 100 hit, "If I Ruled the World." Backed by a full orchestra, singers Bilal and Bridget Kelly, and The Roots' Questlove on the drums, Jay-Z managed to maintain all of Carnegie Hall on their feet for all of the approximately 2 hr. performance with diamonds in the air. (Billboard Biz)

Check out a recent Questlove interview below:

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