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Make that 98 Problems

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Z-YA Jay (Photo: Getty Images)

Yesterday, rapper, fashion mogul, nightlife impresario, restaurant and basketball team part-owner Jay-Z announced that he will be <a href="

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/25/business/25music.html?ex=1356238800&en=00e4a80ab190c7b1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss" target="_blank">stepping down as president of Def Jam records at the end of the year, finally providing some closure to what was the worst-kept secret in the music business. The company line, per HOV: "Now it's time for me to take on new challenges." The likely real reason: Island Def Jam Group chairman L.A. Reid couldn't justify meeting Jay's increased salary demands, given the fact that he's already had to lay off a bulk of the label's staff and that some of the artists the rapper has signed have flat-lined. (Quick: Name a Freeway or Beanie Man single!)

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It's unclear whether Jay-Z will now join his buddy and "99 Problems" collaborator Rick Rubin at Columbia as it's been rumored or whether he will simply focus his efforts on one of the myriad other entrepreneurial endeavors that make him money hand over fist. One thing is clear, though: L.A. Reid's son, Aaron, is totally full of shit.

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