Hip-hop billionaire Jay-Z strikes with bubble deal
The American rapper Jay-Z appears as often in the columns of business newspapers as in the showbiz media. Last week he showed himself to be a thoroughbred entrepreneur again after a resounding deal with the French luxury house LVMH.
Rapper entrepreneur or entrepreneur rapper? It’s hard to choose what comes first with Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, the 51-year-old hip hopper who was able to add a resounding deal to his record this week. He sold half of his champagne brand Armand de Brignac – better known as Ace of Spades because of the spade logo – to LVMH, the company of the French luxury pope and multi-billionaire Bernard Arnault. How much that yields to Jay-Z remained a secret. But if it’s true what he raps in 2018 colleague Meek Mill’s “What’s Free” – “I’m (…) 100 percent of Ace of Spades, worth half a B” – it’s at least $ 250 million. Half of ‘half a B (illion)’.
The bubbles will taste extra sweet. Under its marketing wings, annual sales of Ace of Spades grew to half a million bottles, starting at $ 300 each, but reaching 60,000 for the showy 30 liter Midas.
Jay-Z had bought the brand out of some sort of revenge. He used to prefer Cristal, until the top man disdained his popularity among hip-hoppers. Jay-Z switched to Ace of Spades, took over the label, and made his preference even more official by refusing an offered bottle of Cristal in the 2014 video of ‘Show Me What You Got’ and choosing Ace of Spades. After which the stuff flows freely in the rest of the clip annex commercial.
In this video clip from 2014, Jay-Z makes his preference even more official by refusing an offered bottle of Cristal and choosing Ace of Spades.
The husband of superstar and pop queen Beyoncé pops up in the columns of business newspapers as often as in the showbiz media. Another piece of news from this week. Oatly, the Swedish maker of oat milk that can also be found in Belgian supermarkets, is preparing for the fair. Another opportunity for shareholder Jay-Z to pass the box office as a celebrity investor, in addition to Oprah Winfrey, among others.
However, Jay-Z has come a long way. He grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, a world that has little to do with the rolling Champagne region, in and around Marcy Houses, a bleak social housing project like those scattered around the city in New York. In the rough 80s, the time of the raging crack epidemic, Jay-Z survived as a hustler on his two exceptional talents: entrepreneurship, as a shrewd drug dealer, and rapping, as an artistic outlet. His alter ego comes from metro lines J and Z that pass Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant (‘Bed-Stuy’), a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in recent years.
In his biography, Decoded, Jay-Z describes how he struggled with himself: by dealing crack, he contributed to the drug’s destructive power and was in danger, but he was able to pay bills for his single mother. He forced a way out through music. At the kitchen table he worked on his inventive rhymes and beats. He sold his CDs from the trunk of his car. Since the labels showed no interest, he founded one himself: Roc-A-Fella, after business magnate John D. Rockefeller.
Those who are not familiar with his work can always start with the album ‘The Blueprint’ from 2001. As a musician he found the sweet spot between street credibility and commercial jackpot (he has already won 22 Grammys). He turned his status into a super brand like no other, a lever under his business ingenuity. According to Forbes, who specializes in calculating the wealth of the very rich, Jay-Z is the first billionaire in hip-hop, a genre where money isn’t exactly a dirty word.
His empire has many tentacles. He is the founder of the entertainment company Roc Nation, which acts as an agent for music stars like Rihanna and sports stars like Romelu Lukaku. He invested in successful start-ups such as Uber and Robinhood. In addition to champagne, he is also in the cognac brand d’Ussé, together with Bacardi, good for 100 million dollars. The music streaming service Tidal, which he co-founded, may not touch Spotify’s ankles, but its stake would also be worth $ 100 million.
Friend Warren Buffett once said, “For someone growing up now, Jay-Z is the man to learn from.” He himself regularly raps about his successful life, such as in ‘Diamond From Sierra Leone’: ‘I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.’
Champagne. Jay-Z became the banner and later owner of the bubble brand Ace of Spades, half of which he sold to LVMH this week after ditching another brand, Cristal, for being condescending about rappers.
Hip-hop billionaire. According to Forbes, Beyoncé’s husband is hip-hop’s first billionaire through his investments in spirits, start-ups, real estate and art, among others. He also owns the entertainment company Roc Nation, which markets Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, among others.
Crack dealer. Jay-Z was born Shawn Carter and grew up in a social housing block in Brooklyn. In the 1980s, he was a crack dealer from 16 to 22, but also proved to be exceptionally talented as a rapper. He took his first steps in the music world by founding his own label.