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Jay-Z celebrates Ne-Yo’s success

Def Jam president says his protege ‘has the whole package’
/ Source: The Associated Press

Ne-Yo isn’t the only one celebrating his No. 1 debut on the album charts.

Shawn Carter — better known as Jay-Z and the president of Def Jam Records — is also taking pride in Ne-Yo’s chart-topping success. Jay-Z was a producer on the singer-songwriter’s album, “In My Own Words,” which debuted on the charts this week at the top with approximately 301,000 copies sold.

“He’s naturally talented. Anytime when that happens, and talent wins, it’s an honest blow for the music business,” Jay-Z told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

This is not Ne-Yo’s first time on top of the charts. The 22-year-old wrote last year’s No. 1 smash “Let Me Love You,” except it wasn’t sung by him, but by Mario. This time around, he has his own hit with “So Sick.”

Jay-Z said Ne-Yo’s songwriting ability “separates him from everyone else. He can sing, he can dance, he has the whole package, but on top of that, he’s an excellent songwriter.”

The semiretired rapper said his role on the album was to act like an editor: “My thing was to keep the album short and sweet. When an artist has his first album, they tend to want to put 21 songs on there.”

Ne-Yo, Jay-Z said, was open to constructive criticism. “He doesn’t take it personally. He’ll just go in and do it. We took songs off the album and he had no problem with it.”

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Jay-Z will be taking on the editor role again with upcoming Def Jam projects, including the highly anticipated debut of Nas, his former nemesis, on the label. Jay-Z, who ended his longtime feud with Nas in a concert last year, struck a deal with the Columbia Records-label rapper to have Def Jam release his next records.

Jay-Z said Nas, considered one of the most gifted rappers, has suffered from a lack of direction at Columbia.

“I don’t want to sound disrespectful to Columbia, but I don’t think there was no one in there who had true respect to work with him on his albums,” Jay-Z said. “I think he was just doing everything on his own, and it’s hard to hear everything on your own.”

He predicted Nas’ debut on Def Jam, due in the fall, would be huge, and hinted he may make a guest appearance on the album as well.

“We’ll figure it out. I don’t want to do a song just to do it,” he said.