The Hip-Hop game is full of rappers who emerged on the scene, had one or two hot singles, and maybe a top-selling album, and then afterwards, they disappear forever. That’s not the case with Jay-Z. He entered into the Hip-Hop game with a mission to be successful and legendary, and he has done exactly that. From drug dealer to rapper to clothing brand owner to an all-around entrepreneur and entertainment mogul, Shawn Carter has done it all. He keeps on elevating from one plateau to the next, and in this article, we talk about Jay-Z’s most successful business hustles and ventures. Check them out below.
The young rapper Jay-Z was ready to fully launch his career in the mid-90’s after having a lucrative yet very dangerous underworld career as a self-admitted drug dealer. His partners Dame Dash and Kareem Burke were doing their best to find a major label that would take Jay-Z’s career to the top, but they weren’t getting the interest and backing they wanted. So they decided to go it solo and launch their own label, Roc-A-Fella records. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was a critical success and was the launch pad to an amazing career. The label eventually signed talent like Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel and of course Kanye West. In many ways, this was the first stop on the way to him becoming a global mogul and entertainer.
With the fame and new visibility earned by Jay-Z from his successful debut album, Jay-Z and Dame Dash decided to launch their own Hip-Hop influenced streetwear label called Rocawear in 1999. It instantly caught fire, and at the height of its fame, the full line was raking in sales of more than $700 million. In 2007, Jay-Z sold his rights to the clothing label to the Iconix Brand Group for $204 million, but he stayed on to steer the ship with regards to marketing, licensing and product development. Four years later, Jay also announced a partnership with Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club clothing brand. The latest news from Rocawear this year was the introduction of their new Rocawear Blak line which has the Brooklyn rapper Fabolous as their official face.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has always had a very sharp entrepreneurial mind, and as early as 2003, he was already trying to expand his portfolio past the worlds of music and clothing. He got together with business partners and launched the successful luxury sports lounge and restaurant 40/40. The first one was opened in New York City followed by locations in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The latter two were eventually closed but two new locations were opened at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Judging by his sharp business acumen, there’s a big chance of this franchise going global in the not too distant future.
Founded by Jay-Z in 2008, Roc Nation is a one-stop music, entertainment and film shop that does it all. The agency offers several services including: artist management, music publishing, touring, merchandising, film and television production too. It was funded through a lucrative deal with Live Nation, the biggest name in live music shows in North America. Some the popular acts that are clients of Roc Nation include: Haim, Shakira, Grimes, Big Sean, Angie Martinez, Kylie Minogue and the one and only Kanye West.
In 2012, Jay-Z was an influential player in moving the Nets NBA team from New Jersey to Brooklyn. He was part of the influential and wealthy team that consisted of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Rattner and ONEXIM sports who engineered the multi-faceted deal. Even though he only owned 0.15% of the team, his influence was much more. He was director of the arena, he helped design the logo and Nets brand identity and he held several concerts to inaugurate the opening of the new Barclays Center. Jay recently had to sell his stake in the Nets because of conflicts of interest with his newly formed sports agency. But he still has his 40/40 Club in the Barclays arena, and that’s probably earning him a pretty buck or two.
Roc Nation Sports Agency
If there’s one thing about Jay Z that you can always rely on, it’s that he always knows where the money is and he’s never afraid to change directions and reposition himself to make tons of cash. That’s what he did in the spring of 2013 when he realized he needed to have a presence in the world of major league sports. He launched Roc Nation sports in association with CAA sports; the intention was to bring the same success he was creating for the musicians under his music management umbrella to serve talented athletes as well. It’s looking to be an extremely promising venture and mega-star athletes who have already signed to his agency include: Victor Cruz, Robinson Cano, Geno Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Kevin Durant.
Watch the Throne
In 2011, the master and the protégé connected (Jay Z and Kanye West) to release a collaborative album named Watch The Throne. This album has officially been described by music critics as the first official “luxury rap” album and it really opened both Jay-Z and Kanye West to a new legion of fans. The album yielded several hits including “Ni**as In Paris,” “Otis” and “No Church In the Wild.” The album went platinum in the United States and the global tour that followed was one of the most lucrative road shows in both rappers’ careers. Jay-Z has had several successful music albums but this one really did a lot for introducing him to a new generation of loyal rap fans.
Budweiser “Made In America” Concert
There’s no rapper better than Jay-Z at digging into the pockets of the major corporate brands and leveraging his street level popularity. This is what he did when he partnered with Anheuser-Busch and Live Nation in 2012 to start the annual Made In America festival. The event is held concurrently in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and due to Jay-Z’s pull, it features some of the biggest artists in the game. We’re not sure exactly how big a check Jay-Z got for this project, but you can sure that it’s something with a lot of zeroes in it.
Magna Carta Samsung Deal
In 2013, Jay Z broke new ground once again when he released his highly anticipated album Magna Carta Holy Grail. What set this album apart was this; even before the album was made available to the public, Jay-Z already cut a deal with Samsung to sell one million copies of the record that were available to only Samsung phone owners. So in effect, even before the album was released to the masses, the LP was already certified platinum. Now if that isn’t the work of a shrewd business mind, we don’t know what it is. When it comes to cutting lucrative, innovative details, there’s really no one better.
Ace of Spades Champagne
This is the most recent Jay-Z business acquisition, and we have a feeling that it’s another move that’s going to lace his pockets with a lot more cash. This past month, it was reported that Jay-Z has purchased the brand champagne known as Armand de Brignac – also known as – Ace of Spades. This particular champagne is known for its distinct bottle and insignia. It is produced by French vintner named Champagne Cattier, and even though the official amount hasn’t been divulged, the purchase price is rumored to be between $25-$30 million. Similar to what P. Diddy did with Ciroc vodka, Jay-Z will probably double or triple his profits on this in the near future.
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