Rapper. Club owner. Clothing line creator. Entrepreneur. These are some of the many hats worn by the rapper Jay-Z, who demonstrated his versatility yet again Sunday night when he announced the upcoming release of his new album "Magna Carta Holy Grail."
During ABC's television broadcast of the fifth game of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, a three-minute commercial aired depicting Jay-Z working in a studio with superstar producers Timbaland, Rick Rubin, Swizz Beatz, and Pharrell Williams. The men discussed the music they were creating, nodding their heads to the beat and laughing as wisecracks were made. Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter, described the new music as "lush" and full of live instrumentation.
"That's what hip-hop is," he said. "It's the emotion."
The commercial was produced by electronics giant Samsung, who reportedly signed Jay-Z to a $20 million deal in early June. The New York Post's Page Six quoted a source on June 4 who spoke of the artist's desire to create a "new music-streaming service to promote his acts and music on mobile devices." And that’s exactly what the 43-year-old rapper has done.
The Game 5 advertisement directed viewers to MagnaCartaHolyGrail.com, a website providing further details on Jay-Z's latest project. The album, described by the rapper as "revolutionary" on the Magna Carta Holy Grail site, will be given away for free on July 4 to the first 1 million users who claim the offer on the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, the Galaxy S4 smartphone, or the Galaxy Note II tablet. The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung paid $5 million to offset the costs of the 1 million albums being released for free – $5 for each album download.
"Magna Carta Holy Grail" will initially be made available through its corresponding Samsung app. The app, which will feature an "unprecedented look into the album, personal stories, and inspiration," comes out next Monday. But fans will have to wait until the stroke of midnight on July 4 to download the album on their Samsung devices. "Magna Carta" will be released to the general public on July 7, 72 hours after Samsung users get their hands on it.
Jay-Z, a winner of 17 Grammys, hasn't put out a solo project since "The Blueprint 3" in 2009. His most recent work, however, was 2011's "Watch the Throne," an album he wrote jointly with the rapper Kanye West. He also served as the executive producer for the soundtrack to this year's film adaptation of "The Great Gatsby." Overall, the Brooklyn artist has released 11 solo albums, nine of which have reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
"The idea is to really finish the album and drop it, giving it to the world at one time and letting them share it," Jay-Z said at the conclusion of the video.
"Great, beautiful," Rubin replied with a smile.
Colby Bermel is a Monitor contributor.