Jay Z’s rise from a hustler to billionaire - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 20 February 2021

Jay Z’s rise from a hustler to billionaire


PUBLISHER: Portfolio, 2011

PAGES:  240

Shawn Corey Carter, better known by hip hop lovers as Jay-Z, rose from a street corner school dropout and drug peddler, to a curtain raiser in hip hop gigs, before becoming a global culture icon and billionaire.

While most music lovers see musicians for entertainment, this book gives an insight into how musicians build brands and invest to reach the Forbes billionaires list.

The author, Zack Greenburg, is a former journalist at Forbes magazine, which gives him a clear deftness in following the wealth and business angle of this book written in biography style.

Through multiple interviews, Greenburg establishes Jay-Z as a ruthless, no holds-barred businessman who has used his brand to reach his billionaire status, to the point of cutting out former allies he deems not to fit his rising status and goals.

In the first six chapters, the author takes us through the musician’s background. He is a wordsmith who tries to make ends meet as an upcoming musician and a drug peddler in the streets.

This is an easy part to read as the story flows, following historical data and the rapper's earlier albums, before turning into an investigative report of sorts in Chapter 7, when the author starts to dig into Jay Z’s billions and ventures.

The author tried several times to interview Jay Z, who turned down the chance, arguing in his shrewd business acumen that he was not going to take part in any venture that does not benefit him directly.

To prove this point and capitalise on book sales, Jay Z quickly moved around and ensured he commissioned a book on his life, ‘Decoded’, which was published before this title.

Money and power don’t change you; they just further expose your true self
Jay Z

This mentality, as captured in the book, saw Jay Z embracing a champagne, Armand de Brignac, which was just a common wine, building its value and price by over 100 per cent just by name-dropping it in his lyrics.

The book brings out Jay Z as a man with an impulse for success, acquisitive tendency for wealth and a flair for deal-making, which sees him venture into the basketball industry by owing a team, into fashion and in music, becoming a CEO at a records company.

He also helps to bring to the world artistes like Rihanna, Kanye West and Rick Ross.

The most interesting part of the book is Chapter 8, which covers his marriage to fellow superstar Beyoncé Knowles, giving insights into the value it has business-wise.

While the two superstars had their own fan base, from Jay Z’s hardcore hip hop to Beyonce’s blues, the book puts into perspective how their two brands merging makes business sense.

First, their pre-nuptial agreement reads more like a business partnership than a marriage, factoring in figures from joint tours and values of brand endorsement (the market believes if Jay Z picks a brand to endorse, then Beyonce also supports it). This rakes in more money for the couple.

What the author has managed to do, from his background as a journalist, is collect data on what is already known in public about Jay Z and put it between the covers of a book. With a little bit of dirt-dishing by former colleagues and specific details of Jay Z’s businesses in a well-crafted theme.


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