Rapper Jay-Z, seen here rehearsing on June 23, 2006, declared that 2003's The Black Album would be his last. ((Jim Cooper/Associated Press))

Rap icon Jay-Z is ending what he calls "the worst retirement in history" with the release of his first album in three years.

Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) revealed to Entertainment Weekly in an issue that hits newsstands Monday that he is working on a new album entitled Kingdom Come, just three years after he said that 2003's The Black Album would be his last.

Although the 36-year old hadn't made an album in three years, to say he was retired is a bit of a stretch.

In the time off, he became president and chief executive officer of Def Jam Recordings, part owner of the New Jersey Nets and was an ubiquitous presence on the albums of other artists, most notably his not-so-secret girlfriend Beyonce Knowles.

While Jay-Z never said never to performingβ€” he'sin the middle of a seven-week European tour β€” he did think his record-making days were over.

"I believed it, yeah. I believed it for two years," he said.

Album-buyers looking for new Jay-Z material had to resort to mash-ups featuring the artist, made possible by his release of an a capella version of The Black Album.

Hip-hop producer Danger Mouse's The Grey Album mixed the rapper's last album with the Beatles self-titled album, also known as The White Album, and became an internet sensation.

Jay-Z himself did a surprising collaboration with rock band Linkin Park on a mash-up of their own entitled Collision Course.

He told Entertainment Weekly he had been working in the studio over the summer.

A-list producers

"Something, when you love it, is always tugging at you and itching, and I was putting it off and putting it off. I started fumbling around to see if it felt good," he said.

The album, Kingdom Come,will featureA-list producers Timbaland, Kanye West and Dr. Dre.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin also produced a track called Beach Chair.

As for retirement, Jay-Z said it's still an option for another time.

"If I wake up one day and the best material has passed me by β€” and that's going to happen, then it's time to move on. I've said what I wanted to say."

The album is set for release later this fall.

With files from the Associated Press