The multi-branded, multi-faceted Hip Hop artist is nothing new. Going back to the days when Run D.M.C. first uttered the lyrics to “My Adidas” and got a subsequent endorsement deal out of it, up until today when rappers are endorsing everything from their own headphones to liquor to vitamin-enhanced water to Wing Stop and Fat Burger franchises, Hip Hop artists have realized that it’s been about much more than just the music for some time now.
But Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter seems to have taken this ideal to a whole new level. We all know that he’s had one of the greatest musical runs in Hip Hop history, starting in ’96 with the classic yet underappreciated (at the time) Reasonable Doubt album, giving us the likes of In My Lifetime, Vol. 2, The Dynasty Roc La Familia, The Blueprint series, The Black Album and Watch The Throne in the process.
We also know that Hova has become the poster boy for the American Dream of Hip Hop success to the fullest, becoming an owner, entrepreneur extraordinaire, branding expert and ambassador of the realization of that dream. From appearing on the cover of Forbes magazine several times to being ranked many times no lower than No. 2 on the magazines’ list of annual “Cash Kings”, to his ventures with Armadale Vodka, the Roc-A-Wear clothing line, the 40/40 Nightclub in New York, to being a minority owner of NYC’s newly-christened “it” team, the Brooklyn Nets.
Yes, Jay-Z has done a ton not only as an artist and a businessman, but also as that very ambassador of the music and the culture that many of us still hold so dear to this very day. But as of late, Jigga has seemed to not branch out quite as much, instead honing his skills and focusing in on the evolving climate of music and entertainment. And he’s made some moves that to many, probably seemed surprising at first, but upon closer glance, seem to align tightly with the fabric of the Marcy Project’s favorite son.
Arguably, Jay-Z’s biggest accomplishment in 2012 in terms of being a curator of music was the Made In America Festival that took place in Philadelphia just last month. Realizing that the socialness and interactivity of music has reached an all time high, Jay shrewdly partnered with the United Way and the city as a whole to bring a music festival that featured sets from artists ranging from Pearl Jam to Jill Scott to Maybach Music Group, Janelle Monae and The Hives. Pretty powerful.
The, of course, there is Jay’s minority ownership stake in the Brooklyn Nets and the opening of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, touted as the most technologically advanced sports stadium in the country. Which is also the place where Jay just completed a four-night concert run, filling the stadium to capacity. Even more powerful.
And if you haven’t noticed it, music from Hova’s catalog, along with cohort Kanye West, has been featured in some of the biggest major motion pictures over the past three plus years, from Denzel Washington’s Safe House to, Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Great Gatsby, to Kanye’s “Power” appearing in Oscar-nominated The Social Network and Limitless, as well as the new movie Broken City starring Mark Wahlberg and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And let’s not forget how “No Church In the Wild” is the official music for the latest Dodge Dart commercial/campaign, which also features New England Patriot’s Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady in its commercials. Extremely powerful.
What’s that you ask? What about gaming? Oh sure, Jay-Z couldn’t possibly be involved in THAT industry at all. Welp…guess again. Jay is the official executive producer of NBA 2K13, considered one of the biggest gaming franchises in the history of pretty much all of gaming. So with all of the teen boys and grown men that are assured to be sitting in front of their flat screens tapping away at their controllers for hours on end with this, I’d say that this was a pretty damn good move for Mr. Carter, as well.
So, it would seem that Hova has taken the next leap, first from respected Hip Hop artist, then to shrewd and savvy businessman, and now reaching a new hierarchy where he is owning, operating and controlling media just about any space we can think of. And this definitely seems to be aligned with where Hip Hop has always wanted to go and everything that it wanted to accomplish: to be a driving force of nature in a world that didn’t (and sometimes still doesn’t) want to see it succeed.
Love him or hate him, Jay-Z is fast becoming the new model for multi-tiered, far-reaching and all-encompassing success in music and other multimedia spaces. Looks like he really is on to the next one.Google+