Jay-Z is close to finalizing a book deal with the Spiegel & Grau imprint of Random House. The literary agent repping the rapper, Matthew Guma, had no comment, but sources say the book will consist of Jay-Z commenting on and telling the stories behind his lyrics.
Sources said that when Mr. Guma originally approached editors and publishers earlier this summer, he was talking about doing a bundle of three books: One was going to be a traditional memoir, one was going to be a business book, and the third was the one that Spiegel & Grau ended up acquiring.
This will be the first book by Jay-Z, who famously claims never to write down his lyrics on paper. When it will be published is unknown. The multiplatinum-selling rapper’s next album, The Blueprint III, is scheduled for release on Sept. 11, 2009.
Back in 1998, Jay had a couplet on the Hard Knock Life song “Money, Cash, Hoes” that predicted big things for his book: “Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, took on the world / Shit, I led a life you can write a book on / Sex, murder, and mayhem, romance for the street / Man and I’ll tell ya, it’ll be a best seller!”
The book will be edited by Spiegel & Grau executive editor Chris Jackson. Mr. Jackson declined to comment this morning, and Julie Grau, the co-publisher of the imprint who is overseeing negotiations with Mr. Guma, did not immediately return a call.
UPDATE (5:47 P.M.): Just came across this from 2003, which indicates that Jay had a deal with the MTV Books line of Simon & Schuster’s Pocket imprint to do a memoir called The Black Book co-written with journalist Dream Hampton. The book was supposed to be published as part of the promotional campaign surrounding The Black Album, which was going to be Jay’s last album until he came out of retirement. But the book never came out. According to this Rolling Stone piece, the book was already written when Jay got cold feet and canceled it, citing privacy issues. “I know that people really want to know about me,” he told the magazine, according to this post from hip-hop blog Nah Right,“and I thought I was OK with it, but as it got closer and closer, I said, ‘What am I doing?'” Hopefully he’s feeling a little more open now.