Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com
EW Staff
January 01, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

(FROM VARIETY) — Rapper Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z) will step down from his position as the president of Def Jam Records at the end of the year, when his contract expires. ”Now it’s time for me to take on new challenges,” said the 38-year-old artist in a statement. The Universal Music Group, which owns Def Jam, has made no announcement of a replacement. Jay-Z has been in the job since 2005. During his tenure, the label has had hits from Kanye West and Rihanna; Jay-Z’s own 2006 album, Kingdom Come, moved 1.5 million units. But Def Jam has also been hit by a general music-business malaise, as seen in the slow sales of Jay-Z’s most recent endeavor, American Gangster, which sold just 784,000 copies. The artist will continue to record for the label and is said to be looking to focus more attention on his other businesses, including the 40/40 Club chain of high-end sports bars. (Variety)

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