Jay-Z: Frank W. Ockenfels 3/Corbis Outline
October 15, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

How Jay-Z gained power in 2004

AGE 34

You’ll find more people still believe Iraq has WMDs than take Jay-Z at his word that he’s retiring his mic. But even if he does, it won’t be to hit the Bahamas with Beyoncé: He’s being pursued by at least two labels to take on an executive position, with Universal reportedly close to signing him as president of Def Jam. It would mark the first time a still-popular artist controlled a major — not vanity — label, risky for both parties.

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