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Jay Z Retires
October 14, 2003

Jessica Koslow

Jay-Z confirms The Black Album is his last and announces the kick-off concert of his tour at NYC's Madison Square Garden on November 25.

Funkmaster Flex is spinning back-to-back Hov classics overlooking the ice rink at Madison Square Garden. The Garden Vision screens Jigga videos. Suddenly, the volume gets low and a montage of important athletes and moments flash above, highlighting the magic of Madison Square Garden. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, founder of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) introduces Jay-Z and Russell Simmons, one of the main funders of the HSAN. Memphis Bleek follows Jay. Reverend Run is right behind Russell. After praising Jay for releasing 9 consecutive Platinum-plus albums, selling over 20 million units and being nominated and winning Grammy®, Billboard, Radio Music Award and MTV Music Awards, Ben brings Jay to the mic.

Jay-Z: This is hot. This is a great day. I'm just happy to bring hip-hop back to Madison Square Garden. It's a great place. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. And also to be doing it on these terms, as a benefit for the Hip-Hop Action Summit. It's a beautiful thing with the "Black Album" coming. I consider this my victory lap. We're calling this "From Marcy to Madison Square." I ain't going to talk too long cause I ain't good at talking if the words don't rhyme.

Jay has called this press conference to discuss The Black Album, due out November 28, his autobiography The Black Book, the black version of his signature Reebok sneaker, S. Carter and the kick-off concert of his tour at Madison Square Garden on November 25. Proceeds from the event will go to the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network will use the money to register voters (

Let the questions begin.

How did you get involved with Russell Simmons?
That guy right there laid the blueprint for us all to follow. So anything that he's involved with, I know is positive and on the up and up. I have 100% faith in that guy.

What special guests will be at the concert?
A couple of your favorite artists. Any of you who have seen me do Summer Jam know it's a great event.

How does it feel to be doing a concert at MSG?
It's a beautiful thing. I come here to watch the games at times. It's a magical place. I remember Run and them rocking Madison Square Garden. I didn't come. It was too hectic. I couldn't get a ticket. But I heard about it. People from Brooklyn were taking buses out there to go see it. It's a magical place for me.

What can we expect from The Black Album?
I tried to refocus that energy from '88-'94, to the time I got into the music business. Even though I am who I am, it's told from that perspective. I tried to recapture that energy.

Any collaborations?
No collaborations as far as rappers.

Why did you call this album The Black Album?
It just fit. Some things just fit with the overall. The Black Book. The Black Sneaker. The Black Album. It was a Black Friday in November. I usually drop around November. It just made sense.

What does this project mean to you?
I don't want to use the word funeral but it's the completion of the whole career. I can't really explain the whole Black Album ideology.

What is The Black Book about?
My process from then to this event right here, "From Marcy to Madison Square."

Will you take your book tour to the schools?
I did that last year, I did 'Principal For A Day' where I went and visited schools. That could happen again. But there's definitely going to be a book tour.

How many cities?
We haven't laid it out yet.

Will you go to as many cities as you did for The Hard Knock Life Tour, which was around 52?
Wow. That was 52. I don't know if I can ever do that again. But we'll see. Maybe 34.

What will you do after you're finished promoting this album?
I think it's more like when I came in the game I was forced to be a businessman as well as a rapper. So now I have the choice to be more on the business side. That's what I wanted to do in the beginning. I just wanted to drop one album. I don't know what I was thinking. Now I get to live out that dream. Be more of a businessman. Hook up with Russell more. We do other good things for the community. Go see the Dalai Lama.

You have said you want to do more acting. Will you pursue that? Anything I do I have to have some type of ownership so I have to build a house. It would have to be directing, producing, writing as well as acting. Not just acting. That process is under way also.

Will you drop guest verses on other people's projects after The Black Album?
I don't know how the future of my recordings is going. There will be other releases. It just won't be a full-length Jay-Z album. We'll see how that works out.

Why are you retiring?
Ya'll just really want to catch me on the way down so ya'll could just murder me. I don't want to be the person that you're just like, 'Please go, stop.'


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