As president of Def Jam Recordings, Jay-Z will be remembered for his Empire State Building peaks and his subway-level lows. Hes launched debut albums by Young Jeezy, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, and our very own Rick Ross, but also albums by failed Brit rapper Lady Sovereign, as well as low-selling (though high-quality) ones from longtime Jay cohorts Freeway and Beanie Sigel. Jay-Z was out by 2007, and two years later, Sony bought his Roc Nation label for $150 million.
North Carolina rapper J. Cole was the inaugural signee to Roc Nation, and he represents the newest litmus test for Jay-Z as a label exec. Cole, working the mixtape circuit, followed up a promising verse on Jays recent Blueprint 3 with an even better debut single of his own, the recently released Who Dat. Tapped by XXL as one of 2010s best young MCs, he comes off like Lupe Fiasco with a Southern swagger. His debut album will drop later this year, but hell be at Mansion this Thursday.
Thu., July 8, 11 p.m., 2010