The true story of what is going on with Jay-Z at Island Def Jam seems to be unfolding in the gossip pages. Murmurs that the hip-hop impresario was set to leave the label have been buzzing since last year. In July, Ben Widdicombe's "Gatecrasher" column reported that "he is in negotiations to jump to rival Columbia," citing this year's appointment of Jermaine Dupri to head up Island's Urban group as one cause of strife. At that point, it looked like it was all Jay's idea to look for a new job. But now, in "Rush & Molloy," we learn that maybe the Island Def Jam brass aren't that happy with their 2005 hire:
Island/Def Jam CEO L.A. Reid and his boss, Doug Morris, are said to have found Jay's demands "excessive" in light of the time he's been spending on tour. "People have lost count of how many times he's come out of retirement," the source says. "Everybody knows he's not around the office much. Everybody at Universal loves him, but they can't justify paying him the money he wants when so many people have been laid off." His contract is said to expire at the end of this month. Friends of the rapper, who last night was celebrating his 38th birthday in Paris, scoffed at claims that Reid and Morris had thrown in the towel.
We've heard a lot on this topic: That Jay's longtime girlfriend, Beyoncé, wants him to quit. That Jay's singles are tanking. That L.A. Reid is tired of Jay getting all the attention. Which makes us want to yell about something we've been wondering for years: When will Jay make an honest woman out of Beyoncé!?
Jay-Z in Jam over Contract [NYDN]