The bearded producer, last-minute fixer for Kanye West's Yeezus, apparently didn't work on Magna Carta Holy Grail, whatever the impression the advertisements gave to fans.
"The point of me being in the commercials was that [Jay-Z] was filming a documentary and he asked me … to come listen to the songs with him and just talk about the songs," Rubin explained to XXL. "I imagine he's just comfortable talking to me … [He said] 'Just listen to it and talk about it,' and that's what we did. It was fun."
That's certainly not the impression given by Magna Carta Holy Grail's teaser video, in which Rubin lounged on a couch while Jay-Z listened to beats and recorded his rhymes. Between Rubin's work on Yeezus and his 2004 collaboration with Jay-Z, 99 Problems, it made sense that the bearded mogul might be contributing to the rapper's 13th solo LP. Instead, he simply listened to it.
"I liked what I heard, but it was a little difficult," Rubin told XXL. "Coming from the Kanye sessions … I was in a very alternative and progressive headspace, and Jay's record is a more traditional hip-hop record."
With Magna Carta Holy Grail due before the end of the week, Jay-Z has continued his slow rollout of videos, lyrics and artwork. On Monday he revealed the album's minimalist cover, and words to the track BBC, which also features Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Nas, Swizz Beats, Pharrell and Timbaland. In a promo clip for the song Heaven, the rapper made clear that fatherhood is affecting his worldview: "For me … heaven is in your daughter's laughter," he said. "Hell could be – if your child is missing for three minutes, you're in three minutes of hell." Elsewhere on the record, Jay-Z shows his love of late-90s alternative rock, borrowing lyrics from REM's Losing My Religion and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Magna Carta Holy Grail will be released on Thursday to owners of Samsung phones, opening to wider sales next week.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Joella Marano