So the word on the street is that Jay-Z is working on a new album for later this year. In separate interviews recently, both Pharrell and Timbaland "accidentally" mentioned that they were in the studio working on beats for a new Jay-Z album. Oops!

You wonder though if both once-great producers really find it that difficult to keep a secret, or if the TIs at Def Jam instructed them to leak this information to the press so as to gauge public interest in a new Jay-Z album. Smart money would be on the latter. In an especially egregious incident, I read recently that Kanye West "accidentally" mentioned the new Jay album while giving an acceptance speech at an awards show, before catching himself at the last minute. Riiight.

There was never any doubt in my mind that there would be another Jay-Z album sooner or later. I was actually surprised though that Jay made it through 2005 without dropping anything. The thing is though, a lot of that bullshit Jay put out after he retired carried him right into this year. As recently as February, he was doing "Yesterday" with Paul McCartney at the Grammys, instructing the former Beatle to "take 'em uptown," which is just wrong on so many levels.

It's been quite a bit of time though since Jay-Z has done anything that really impressed me, other than perhaps nailing Rihanna. The Grey Album, which Jay didn't really have a whole lot to do with, was kinda cool, but most of the other Black Album remixes have sucked balls. The track he did on that Memphis Bleek album was alright for what it was, if not on the level of Jay's best shit. And the less said about some of these verses he's been dropping on people's remixes, the better.

And even though it's only been three years since the Black Album, the state of hip-hop has changed quite a bit. While it's true that the East Coast had already begun to fade by the time Jay-Z decided to gracefully bow out, it's pretty much died altogether in the interim. G-Unit aside, East Coast rap albums these days are hardly a commercial force. Crazy as it sounds, it remains to be seen whether anyone would even give a shit about a new Jay-Z album.

As such, I wonder if it's really that good of an idea for Jay-Z to attempt to mount a comeback this year. Given the circumstances, it would seem as if he's got hardly anything to gain and everything to lose. If the album comes out well, of course he'll be considered the man, but it's not like he already isn't. But if the album sucks balls, he'll just be viewed as a huge embarrassing failure with a gambling problem, like Michael Jordan when he came back with the Washington Wizards.