The appointment, rumored for months, was announced Wednesday by Antonio "L.A." Reid (search), the chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group.
The multi-platinum rapper — whose "The Black Album" was nominated for three Grammys on Tuesday — will take the helm on Jan. 3. He will also continue to run Roc-A-Fella records, which he co-founded with Damon Dash in 1995.
Def Jam, which owned 50 percent of Roc-A-Fella, also announced Wednesday that it had wholly purchased the rap label, whose acts include the 10-time Grammy nominee Kanye West, Cam'ron, and the recently sentenced Beanie Sigel. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.
"I have inherited two of the most important brands in hip-hop, Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella," Jay-Z said in a statement. "L.A. Reid and Universal Music Group have given me the opportunity to manage the companies I have contributed to my whole career. I feel this is a giant step for me and the entire artist community."
Reid praised Jay-Z — whose real name is Shawn Carter — for his business acumen and declared him the perfect candidate to lead Def Jam. Its previous president, Kevin Liles, left in July and became executive vice president at Warner Music Group.
"I can think of no one more relevant and credible in the hip-hop community to build upon Def Jam's fantastic legacy and move the company into its next groundbreaking era."