There’s a reason for the financial media’s infatuation of Jay-Z – he perfectly embodies the post-Silver Age of Hip Hop’s capitalist credo. He is business first, message second. The greatest rapper alive? No doubt about it, but he is also the greatest rapper/entrepreneur. That’s a crowded field these days but none have done it better.
The Wall Street Journal looks at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation empire on the eve of his forthcoming book. Jay discusses the power of saying no to certain deals and appearances which is something I’m trying to learn to do myself. All in all, it’s a terrific profile by John Jurgensen…
Rolling through New York City in the back seat of his black Maybach, Jay-Z touches a button to let more light through the translucent roof, then tugs back a window curtain to peek out at the rainy streets of his hometown. The rapper went from a Brooklyn housing project to a top corner office near Times Square, a path traced in “Empire State of Mind,” his anthem to the city that has taken a place next to Sinatra’s.
At age 40 and still rapping, Jay-Z inhabits the rare zone where cultural cachet and corporate power meet. He’s had partnerships with Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Reebok and Microsoft. Forbes magazine put him on the cover of its current 400 “Richest People in America” issue, even though at $450 million he was only “on his way” to cracking the list ($1 billion was required this year). He’s posted more No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 list than anybody but the Beatles, has won 10 Grammy awards and sold 45 million albums.
He’s using his clout to rewrite some industry rules. His music company hedges the unpredictable business of music sales against steadier revenues from music publishing, artist management and touring. The company, Roc Nation, was created out of a $150 million, 10-year, profit-sharing deal with concert giant Live Nation, which has made bets on acts such as U2 and Madonna that are similar, though narrower in scope.
Read the rest: