Rapper Jay-Z is to step down as president of Def Jam Records, it has been confirmed by Universal Music Group.

He is to continue recording for Roc-A-Fella, the label he co-founded in 1996 and part of the Universal-distributed Def Jam Music Group.

In a statement the 38-year-old thanked the artists and executives with whom he had worked during his three-year tenure as Def Jam president.

He explained: "It's time for me to take on new challenges. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy, helping to move the company into a new era of artistic success."

Antonio 'LA' Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam, added: "Jay made it clear to us that he feels the time has come to take on different challenges in his life.

"While we regret his decision to move on, we certainly respect it. While he will continue to be one of our signature artists, he will nonetheless be missed in this executive capacity."

The rapper last month won an award in recognition of his Water for Life campaign, developed in conjunction with the United Nations (UN).

On the same day as the Brooklyn boy earned his tenth US number one album with new release American Gangster - without being sold through iTunes, no less - his water and sanitation campaign was recognised with the Vibe Props award.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon accepted the prize on Jay-Z's behalf, saying: "My man Jay-Z has been a wonderful partner to the UN and a champion of those in need around the world."

27/12/2007 11:47:41