The Blueprint 3 was released just last month, but Jay-Z never stops working. DJ Hero, the Guitar Hero spinoff he's promoting, arrives in stores tomorrow, and Hov was at the Plaza Hotel this afternoon to discuss it with a table full of journalists. He spoke with Vulture and others about D.J.'s, video games, and BP3. Also, in case you were wondering: Yes, he does wear sunglasses indoors.
On his favorite childhood video games:
"Maybe Space Invaders, or Kaboom! Or Ms. Pac Man. Or Stargate. Asteroids too, you hit the little rocks, that was cool. I remember maybe Kaboom! was one of the ones that I’d play endlessly on Atari. You know, you have to catch the bombs. In the arcade, it was Stargate, I’d say that’s the first game. Not Defender. Defender, it was aiight. But Stargate, when you had to go through that little box and all that? You pick the people up and take them in the box? That was special."
On his gaming skills:
"My nephews ain’t beat me they whole entire life, until now. They can destroy me now. But I’d never let them, 'cause that mean they controlled the household. I would just beat them mercilessly. By a hundred. Let them build up character. Suck it up, kid. You know, dunk on 'em, do different plays. Ty Ty, who's my guy, we he had this long-standing battle. This was like Lakers versus Celtics, the early live games. That’s when Michael Jordan used to helicopter [dunk], all this type of stuff. And I would just destroy him. I’d torture him. I was that guy. I’d just be talking halfway though: “Man, are you gonna play harder? Are you just gonna let me beat you by 75?”"
On his future plans as a superstar D.J.:
"I think after a year with DJ Hero I’m gonna start D.J.-ing parties like Q-tip and all those guys. I already got a whole plan: I’m gonna work on this for a year, then I’m gonna get me a little Serato set, work on that for another six months. Then I’m gonna find out who makes the most. I’m gonna charge double that. I’m gonna do a tour, bar mitzvahs, weddings. I’m gonna have like video ... I’m telling ya’ll, 'cause I don’t want nobody stealing my idea I’m gonna have, like, video behind me. Dancers. I’m gonna have people pour champagne when I get to a certain song. I’m gonna make a whole show of this thing."
On D.J.'s making bucks:
"D.J.'s are making more money than they’re ever making. God bless, DJ AM was playing Vegas. Mark Ronson I’m sure don’t go out of his house for [less than] a zillion dollars. Samantha Ronson probably pay more in taxes than me."
On killing Auto-Tune with "D.O.A.":
"I really just wanted to send a message to rap; I didn’t know it’d be a cultural dispute. I really wanted to have the conversation, like “are we just going to sound like each other? Everyone’s going to sound the same? That’s what we’re gonna do? Don’t ya’ll know this is dangerous? And this is just how rock and roll got pushed from the forefront?” We did this to rock and roll. Everyone was doing the hair-band thing on MTV with the tight pants. They all had the big hair, just different colored tights. It just became about more of a look and a sound than the emotion of the music. And that’s what hip-hop’s becoming. It’s losing the emotion — you can’t have emotion in the robotic voice. I can’t feel anything! And then everyone sounds the same. I really wanted to have the conversation amongst us. And it went outside the culture."
On making money in the music industry:
"Music consumption is at an all-time high. We’re at a crossroads of how to monetize that, so anytime you can integrate music in different vehicles, you want to do that. That was pretty much the reason to start Roc Nation. I didn’t have to. I had a big comfy job at Def Jam. [But] it’s a very exciting time in the music business. It’s almost like cowboys and Indians. We pioneers at this time, discovering new ways to get music out there. We’ve always been entrepreneurs, so we’re going to embrace any type of vehicle that makes sense. We’re not just going to do anything and shit, show up in a Wendy’s commercial and shit."
On the progression of live hip-hop:
"It took a long time for us to get to where we are as performers. You look at young guys like Wale, you look at how N.E.R.D. play, and even like J. Cole, how they play with live musicians. They taking pride in they showmanship. It’s a big step for us. In the beginning of hip-hop, because hip-hop happened from the song, a lot of times people would have a hit record, and never performed onstage before. So then you throw them on SummerJam in front of 50,000 people and you say “perform,” and then it’s like (makes muffled noises, grabs crotch) — “I don’t know what the fuck I’ma do! I don’t know what to grab my nuts, and just cup the mike wrong and then tell the soundman he fucking up.” So to see us come from that it’s great to see the growth in that area."
On his own live show:
"I'm the shit. I used to be a horrible performer. I was terrible. I’m not really an animated guy, so I had to figure out a way to convey my message and talk to people in compact movements. All the while, being entertaining. It’s a very thin line between not moving, and boring. So I had to figure out how to be a powerful performer, like Bono."
On the World Series, which he'll be kicking off on Wednesday with a performance of "Empire State of Mind":
"I actually predicted the Yankees in six with the Angels, so I think I’m like Jigga the Greek. I’m gonna say, Phillies are a bit tougher than the Angels. I’m gonna take Yankees in seven. Dramatic A-Rod walk-off at the end of the game redeeming him for all the time the papers and the media vilified him. Is that specific enough?"