AS: I went to New York this year and and all the houses had campaign posters for Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton. This one house had a campaign poster that said: "Jay-Z: the name you can trust". Maybe you should think about politics?
Jay-Z: [Laughs hard] That's crazy. Yeah, maybe I should think about it, at least I know I have one vote right? [Laughs] That's a cool story, thank you for sharing.
You've been involved with the ThisDay Festival [global event with dates in Nigeria, the US and the UK] for some time, and have already played the Nigerian and US dates this year. What made you sign up?
I know Nduka [ThisDay corporation owner]. I see a young man trying to do something to bring awareness to Africa, being an entrepreneur about it, I thought it was cool. I come from that scheme myself. It was something that caught my interest, something I felt I should align myself with. You know Africa is the homeland, so anything like this, or the water project I worked with, where I can help bring attention to or help out the mother land, well, that's a beautiful feeling.
Will you be involved with the London leg of the festival in October?
We will see. Early days yet, but maybe...
You recently told MTV you would like to release an album at the end of this year or the beginning of next. With American Gangster being a concept album that worked so well for you, would that be something you'd like to do again?
Well I haven't been to the studio as of yet, so I'm far away from shaping creatively what it is going to be.
Do you think if you release an album so soon after American Gangster, it will lose the anticipation factor?
I make great music. Anticipation is cool - the hype of it is fantastic - but if you look at my track record, I have had albums in 96, 97, 98, 99, 01, 02 ... So I have always been an artist who's been consistent - not only for releasing albums but consistent with the quality of the music as well. The music will speak for itself.
So when Timbaland told MTV that he was going to be the sole producer of your next album, had you even talked about that?
We did have a conversation about the album, we discussed ideas, but it's so early that I can't even say he is going to be on the album. I mean we haven't even done anything yet. So yeah, the statement was a little premature for Timbaland to make.
You've toured Europe and your set at Glastonbury won over the critics - do you think that will inspire you musically?
I work more on the vibe, so if I can vibe with an artist out there in the UK that is making some noise and we happen to hook up, then I'm cool with that. I don't have any pre-conceived notions or plans on trying certain things. I don't ever overthink it. I just believe in good music. I don't care where your music is from, it can be from anywhere in the world. If the music is good and the vibe is good, then who knows what the future holds.
Do you feel the pressure at all when creating a new album? People are quick to start saying you fell off or should retire when you have just one bad verse…
Well, I try to look at it in a positive way. I think people do hold me to a higher standard because of the level of work that I have done. I think people have double standards when it comes to my music, but for me that's the challenge of it. It's the reason to keep making music, if I was relaxed and no one was challenging or questioning me, then why do it?
Your recent verse on Mr Carter from the Lil' Wayne album says: I've got so much from the rap game / now it's your go... Is that you passing the baton on to Lil' Wayne as the next big MC?
I mean that to all upcoming artists. It just happened to be Wayne for that song, but it's for everybody. You know that's what Russell [Simmons] and those guys did for us. They paved the way so that we can get to our goals quicker, if it took Russell ten years then it took me and Puff five years. So hopefully it will take them two and a half. That was really a blanket statement for any upcoming artist. For Lupe, for TI, for everybody…
Does it upset you when people question your loyalty or friendship? Just last week artists that you used to work with, like Tierra Marie and Foxy Brown, questioned your friendship…
That's just from being in the business so long. You know that stuff is going to happen eventually... What I am very happy about is that no matter what people say, no one has ever said that I am dishonest or that I have taken one dime from them. [Raises voice] I've never cheated anyone out of a dime. No one's ever said that, right? As far as Foxy or Tierra Marie, these are people that I have given chances to. Sometimes it don't work out. It's understandable that they would be upset, but you got to look at it [from] my point of view as well. I did give them chances. I gave Tierra Marie the same shot I gave Rihanna. Look at where Rihanna is. Look how that turned out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I wish I could make every single person successful but that just is not reality. That's not even realistic.
OK, so finally, I don't want to be morbid, but if you died tomorrow, would you be happy with what you are leaving behind? Is there anything you really still want to achieve or accomplish?
Wow. Yeah, I am definitely happy with the progress that I have made in my life. I am still hungry to keep achieving more, but if anything happened today or tomorrow then I am more than happy with what I have achieved and the legacy that I would then leave... [long pause] Yeah, I can definitely say that I would be more than happy.