Jay-Z Etches New Blueprint in Video Game World

Rapper waxes poetic on Obama, hip-hop's future, the Yankees, video games.

Oct. 27, 2009 — -- President Barack Obama is getting high praise from one of his most visible pop culture supporters through the campaign and beyond: Jay-Z.

"I feel he's done a great job and I feel he's not running away from issues, he's taking them head on, which is going to put him in the line of fire of criticism, but that's part of his job description," the 39-year-old hip-hop impresario told ABCNews.com Monday. "It's not going to all be rosy. But you've got to figure that we just went through eight years of the worst administration ever. It's going to take at least two years to uncover all that."

Jay-Z waxed poetic about the president, the future of hip-hop, and the New York Yankees while promoting his latest project. Having dominated the realm of popular music, he's off to conquer the world of video games, lending his beats and rhymes to "DJ Hero," in stores today. A special edition of the game, "DJ Hero Renegade Edition," features a turntable controller and two compilation CDs, one from Jay-Z and one from fellow rap all-star Eminem.

"The reach it has and the blending of different genres of music, it was like 'Guitar Hero' for me taken to the next level," Jay-Z said. "This has rock and soul and hip-hop ... original mixes that DJs contributed to the game."

The rapper hopes the game will allow players to dabble in beat-mixing without shelling out tons of dough. ("DJ Hero" retails for $119.99, "Renegade Edition" for $199.99.)

"I think people are making their own playlists and they're their own DJs so to speak, they just didn't have the technical devices to really do it and do it in a loose way," he said. "You had to have the equipment to be a DJ, invest in the equipment, but this is a fun way to enter into it."

Exploring new territory makes sense for Jay-Z -- since establishing himself as a ruler in the realm of popular music, he's branched off into fashion (starting the Rocawear clothing line), nightlife (opening New York's 40/40 club), and sports (co-owning the NBA's New Jersey Nets). But music brought Jay-Z back in the news again earlier this year, when his latest album, "The Blueprint 3," gave him his eleventh No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 chart, crushing Elvis Presley's record and making him the solo artist with the most No. 1 records in the chart's 50-year history.

"You just never fathom that that's possible, as an artist, any artist, in any genre of music," he said. "You never think that your name will be mentioned with someone as legendary as Elvis Presley. Just for my name to be in the same sentence, let alone surpass him for most No. 1's, it's just beyond anything that I can fathom."

His favorite track off "The Blueprint 3": "Empire State of Mind," is the duet of "hope and emotion" that he and Alicia Keys will perform at Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night as the New York Yankees take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Considering the response that song and his album's gotten, Jay-Z's certain that despite perennial reports to the contrary, hip-hop's here to stay.

"I think the death of hip-hop is just very premature and wildly exaggerated," he said. "There's always room for poets. Hip-hops and emcees are poets. There can never be the end of poets, that's just impossible."