Empire State Of Mind: A Look Into Jay-Z's Unusual Business Ventures

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Thanks to some clever loopholes, Jay-Z’s twelfth album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, has been certified platinum before it’s even gone on sale to the public.

This week, Samsung streamed its customers the album – or, at least tried to – ahead of its physical release on July 11th, but in order to do so, they bought one million copies for $5 each.

Although it’s still up in the air whether this means it's eligible to rank in the charts, the platinum-before-it’s-released album still isn’t the most eyebrow-raising part of the rapper's empire.
 

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Jay-Z Is A Certified Sports Agent

For a musician, having your own record label is a pretty standard venture (even Gary Barlow had one). But earlier in 2013, Jay’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, branched out into Roc Nation Sports, an athletic agency division.

In order to represent athletes during contractual negotiations, however, you need to be certified by various unions, and last month Jay-Z became certified by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) – so he can now negotiate contracts with NBA teams.

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Oklahoma City Thundar star Kevin Durant – and his multi-million dollar endorsements – have already headed over to Hov.

 

Jay-Z Has His Own Colour

An actual, official, registered colour – all from an abandoned deal Jay-Z had ten years ago to produce his own limited edition Chrysler Jeeps painted in – wait for it – ‘Jay-Z Blue’.

The colour was created by industrial designer Adrian Van Anz, and Jay was set to receive 5-10% on each $50,000 car sold. But the deal fell through at the last minute after it was decided the whole thing was a bit tacky. Hmph.

Jay still retains the rights to the colour – and given his daughter’s name is Blue Ivy, don’t be surprised if you see baby strollers with hydraulic suspensions and chrome plates in a store near you.

 

Jay-Z Is The Face Of Cognac and Champagne

In a partnership that drifts dangerously close to parody, last year Jay was unveiled as the face of Bacardi’s D’Usse Cognac, billed as a cooler, youth-appropriate rival to Hennessy.

He also started a partnership with Armand de Brignac champagne, to the point where he featured it in the video for his song ‘Show Me What You Got’.

Jay had earlier decided to boycott the hip-hop community's favored drink of choice, Cristal, something that was seen as controversial among hip-hop (and sparkling wine) enthusiasts.

 

Jay-Z Has His Own Cross-Platform Music Festival

All Tomorrow’s Parties and SXSW might be the American hipster’s festival of choice, but last year Jay Z joined forces with Budweiser (obviously) to curate the 2012 Made In America Festival, taking place across Labor Day Weekend.

He headlined the show, roping in Pusha T, Kanye and Big Sean for cameos and support from artists including Passion Pit and Janelle Monae. Obama turned up to watch the music, because they’re mates, remember?

This year’s Made In American lineup includes a healthy dose of buzz acts like Phoenix, Haim, Kendrick Lemar and, er, Emeli Sande, not to mention Mrs Carter herself, Beyonce Knowles. Who needs Glastonbury with that lot performing?

Jay-Z Made Uncool Trainers Cool Again

Jay-Z’s first big partnership was in 2003, and also one of his most significant; when he created the S. Carter collection for Reebok – a brand that hadn’t had any cultural significance since the '80s.

Getting Jay on board was a smart move, especially considering the dominance Nike had over the trainer market at the time. Jay decided to bring 50 Cent on board (they'd been touring together) and rapped with him about trainers in the commercial.

Sample lyrics for the track include ‘See how we cross brand/We boss about it man’ and ‘I'm so hood/That green and that white looks so good’. While it’s a bit cringe-inducing now, it kickstarted a decade-long career of endorsements that has helped Jay-Z become one of the most powerful musicians in the world.

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