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Thursday, January 03, 2008, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Rumor places Jay-Z and Apple in record label deal

Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z may be on the verge of launching a new record label in concert with Apple Inc. where music releases would take place on the iPod maker's iTunes download service, according to rumors published this week by one blog site.

Citing a "high-up person attached to Jay," the Boy Genius Report claims the five-time Grammy award winning artist is "totally into" Apple's iTunes distribution model and "really wants this to happen."

Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, is the former president and CEO of the widely successful Def Jam Records, having just recently stepped down from the label when his contract expired on December 31, 2007.

"I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have served as President of such a culturally-defining label as Def Jam over the last three years," the 38-year old rapper said in a statement published last month. "But now it’s time for me to take on new challenges."

Though earlier reports had suggested that Jay-Z would be making a transition to the urban division of Sony Records, the Boy Genius Report claims instead that it has "just about confirmed" he'll be teaming with Apple on an unprecedented digital label venture.

Apple last February settled a long-running legal dispute with The Beatles' record label, Apple Corps, which appears to have cleared the iTunes operator of any restrictions that would have prevented it from delving further into the music business.

Under the terms of that settlement, Apple received the rights to all trademarks relating to "Apple" and agreed to license those marks back Apple Corps for their continued use.

It should be noted, however, that rumors of a Jay-Z's partnership with Apple come less than two months after the rapper issued a statement sternly opposing the company's iTunes distribution model. In it, he explained that his new album, American Gangster, would not be made available on the Apple download service due to the Cupertino-based company's policy of allowing iTunes shoppers to purchase individual songs rather than restricting sales to full albums.

"As movies are not sold scene by scene, this collection will not be sold as individual singles," he said.