"Some of Jay-Z's songs contain too much vulgar language," the state-run Shanghai Daily newspaper quoted Sun Yun, of promoter KS Production Co., as saying to explain the ministry's reason for refusing permission for the Oct. 23 concert.
The concert would have been the Chinese debut for the rap icon, whose real name is Shawn Carter.
The New York rapper's use of profanity and songs about drug dealers, pimps and violence apparently offended the culture czars, who have recently allowed other groups with sexually suggestive songs, such as The Rolling Stones and the Black Eyed Peas, to perform in Shanghai.
The cancellation could not be immediately confirmed, but a notice posted Wednesday on an online ticket booking Web site, Tickets365, said the concert had been postponed.
The notice in red gave no reason, but said concertgoers would be contacted as soon as a new date was set.
A call to a representative for the rapper early Wednesday went unanswered, as did calls to the news office of China's Culture Ministry. The number for KS Production was not available.