Although nothing is certain yet, there is a chance that Jay-Z might become president of Def Jam Records. It seems Universal is trying to woo Mr. Carter to head the label in order to secure some street-cred and keep the hits coming. You can read the full article at NYTimes (free registration required).

Universal Music, part of Vivendi, is set to pay about $10 million to unravel the partnership in Roc-A-Fella, which has provided the label with a series of platinum-selling hits, most recently Kanye West’s “College Dropout.” While there is a chance the talks could unravel, these people said, they expect a deal would be made before the expiration of the venture agreement at the end of February.

One twist to the negotiations is the future plans of Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter. He has said he is retiring from making albums, a proclamation he has made numerous times before. If he did record new music, he would be under contract to release it through Universal. But he is free to strike a deal for the creation of a new start-up label or take an executive post with any music company, and at the moment he is being hotly pursued by both Universal and a rival, Warner Music Group. (Executives from both companies have recently paid visits to Mr. Carter while he is on tour with the R&B star R. Kelly).

Major record companies routinely reward or placate top recording artists by agreeing to finance their own small labels, like Madonna’s Maverick Records (since bought out by Warner). Few, however, have turned out to be little more than vanity projects that are quickly forsaken.

In Mr. Carter’s case, however, Universal would hand him the vacant position as chief of one of its biggest divisions, with authority over everything from album production to marketing strategies, and an artist roster that includes acts like LL Cool J and Ludacris. (After taking full ownership of the Roc-A-Fella venture, the company would also probably provide Mr. Carter with a new mini-label, tentatively called S. Carter Records).