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From Brooklyn with a Blueprint

Being Jay-Z

Jay-Z in London
Jay-Z in London

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(CNN) -- With seven studio albums in as many years, one of the industry's most popular rappers has proven he's serious about getting the job done.

Since his 1996 splash debut LP, "Reasonable Doubt," Brooklyn, New York-born Jay-Z has been busy -- dropping an album a year and heading up Roc-a-Fella Records, the label he started with producer Damon Dash.

In the last two years, his albums "The Blueprint" and "The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse" have both entered the U.S. chart at No. 1. The double disc "Blueprint 2" (Def Jam) features a parade of hip-hop A-listers, including Dr. Dre, OutKast's Big Boi, Beyonce Knowles and a posthumous contribution from Notorious B.I.G.

TMR caught up with Jay-Z in London to chat about the album and why he says he'll only make one more.

TMR: Did you have any special moments while making the album?

JAY-Z: I'd have to say that doing "A Dream" was one of the most special times because, you know, Big [Notorious B.I.G.] was a friend of mine. I wasn't originally going to use his verse for "Dream." I was just going to use the sample "it was all the dream," but then I started singing his verse over it and then I was like "that sounds good."

So I called Puff [Sean "P. Diddy" Combs] and said send the reels over for me. He sent those over and then I called Faith [Evans]. When Faith came to the studio she brought their son [with late husband Notorious B.I.G.]. So that whole vibe with that whole song was serious.

TMR: You collaborated with Beyonce Knowles on the "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" track. What was it like to work with her?

JAY-Z: Anytime you get the chance to get in the room and work with somebody who's a talent like that is a beautiful thing. I try to work with the most credible people, you know? She writes her own songs and things like that, she knows what she wants to hear. It was a great experience.

TMR: Do you get a different reaction to your music from overseas audiences?

Being Jay-Z

JAY-Z: Yeah. I just think they're more ... like in the States we're jaded. Like we have so many concerts and we get to see people so often. I mean, the majority of us live in the States. So, a lot of times we go to concerts, we go for the vibe -- like who's going to be there, if there's girls going to be there.

Like, when they come to concerts over here, they come as a fan of the music. So it's like clap after every song, it's people that don't speak English that know every word to your song, which is amazing to me every time.

TMR: How important has your rivalry with Nas been to you and your music?

JAY-Z: What people gotta understand is rap is based off ... it's a competitive sport, you know what I'm saying? That's how it came up. It came up with the battle -- people going outside plugging their music in the lamppost, and then the other guy going down the street and plugging his music in the lamppost. And whoever got better music on had the biggest crowd.

That's just the history of rap music, you know what I'm saying? And sometimes when people, you know, we doing the same thing and reach a certain height, you know? So it's basically just about the music, and it's about competitive rivalry. You gotta look at it like two people playing basketball, two people boxing.

TMR: You've said you're only doing one more album. Why are you stopping?

JAY-Z: I have seven studio albums, 10 altogether, you know what I'm saying? Like it's time to do different things, like take off the safety blanket, you know what I'm saying? I've been cruising doing this, and I love to make music but I gotta challenge myself in other fields also.

TMR: What else do you want to do?

JAY-Z: Do movies -- just do different things.

TMR: Who are your idols outside the music business?

JAY-Z: Michael Jordan. Just the way he went about the game, you know what I'm saying? He played the game. Every time he got on that court he was serious.

And just for the way he maintained his success level. Like it's very easy to win the championship ... that's cool, he can relax. He won two, he could definitely relax. He won six -- you know what I mean? -- and [he] still didn't relax. You know after all this time -- seven albums -- I'm still in the studio before anybody, and I still leave after everybody.


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