NEW YORK – Wait a minute, didn't Jay-Z say he was retiring TWO albums ago?
"I want to never say that again," the 37-year-old rap mogul says in XXL magazine's new issue. "Just make the albums, man. And if one day people wake up and it's four years later, and you haven't made another, they go, `Wait a minute, you're retired!' I think that's best for me."
"I think I pulled the retirement ripcord too many times. People looking at me like, `Please shut up.' I was looking at (his retirement movie) `Fade to Black' the other day. I was embarrassed. I couldn't watch. I'm not playing with you. I had to turn it off," he says. "I was cringing."
Jay's new project is an album about his hustling days, inspired by the upcoming film "American Gangster." That places him in competition with hot rappers of the moment — like Lil Wayne, who after Jay "retired" proclaimed himself the "greatest rapper alive."
"I think Lil Wayne is extremely talented," Jay says. "I think he's one of the most talented ones out there. I mean, even more so how his delivery is than what he says. I don't think some of the things he says sometimes are the greatest things, but the way he delivers it, that's part of it."
"But do I think me and Lil Wayne should be in the same sentence? Me? No," Jay says. "I mean, hopefully one day. He has to accumulate work. Put some classics under his belt."
A superstar girlfriend like Beyonce wouldn't hurt as an equalizer.
"I think people are only interested in (a relationship) three times: When you get together, when you break up, and when you have a baby," Jay says. "They don't have good intentions. People just want to manipulate the situation to benefit them. I think relationships are broken up because of the media."