NEW YORK - Call him the Michael Jordan of rap. Jay-Z, who declared that 2003's "The Black Album" would be his last, is coming out retirement and releasing a new CD.
"Kingdom Come" will hit stores this fall, Entertainment Weekly magazine reports in its new issue, due on newsstands Monday.
"It was the worst retirement in history," Jay told the magazine.
Actually, his post-retirement career looked pretty good. In 2004, the rap icon (real name: Shawn Carter) became president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. He became part owner of the New Jersey Nets that same year. Also on his resume: Not-So-Secret Boyfriend of Beyonce.
Despite naysayers' doubts, the 36-year-old Jay-Z thought he was retired from music-making: "I believed it, yeah. I believed it for two years."
But since his "retirement," he's gone on a world tour, performed on hit records with Beyonce and other entertainers, and had a profile higher than most working rappers. There were rumblings that he was working on a new album. And in an interview with The Associated Press this summer, he said he was thinking about coming out of retirement.
He told Entertainment Weekly that he began tinkering in the studio over the summer.
"Something, when you love it, is always tugging at you and itching, and I was putting it off and putting it off. I started fumbling around to see if it felt good," he said.
The result: "Kingdom Come."
The disc is "more in the vein of `The Black Album' than `The Blueprint,'" he tells the magazine. "I've been experimenting with things, different types of music."
He's already recruited some A-list producer-collaborators: Timbaland, Kanye West and Dr. Dre. Even Coldplay frontman Chris Martin produced a track called "Beach Chair," he said.
So — for real now — when does he plan to retire?
"If I wake up one day and the best material has passed me by — and that's going to happen," he said, "then it's time to move on. I've said what I wanted to say."
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