While we all got to know Manhattan-based Jay Z for his illustrious rap career, many of the past ten years have seen him delve into the business world. Much of his 2017 project 4:44 dove into this reality. From referencing expensive paintings to his vast portfolio, he's pursued a vision to re-write his legacy. Hov wants to move from being seen as solely a rapper to an influential billionaire.
Jay Z's endless ambition shouldn't come as a surprise to any of his fans. Many records passed on him back in the mid-'90s, believing he was too old to warrant a contract. He would respond by creating his old record label, Roc-A-Fella Records. There, he would curate his ability to pick out unique talents. Helping propel the careers of Kanye West, Freeway, Beanie Sigel, and more, he's been wisely investing in other people since the beginning of his career.
Hov's business ventures have certainly paid off. The multi-creative force first being tagged as a billionaire back in 2019. Joining an elite group of American Black billionaires, he was the first hip-hop artist to join the 10-figure ranks. Growing up in the Brooklyn projects, it's been a hell of a journey for Shawn Carter. Jay Z stated he had "a million ways to make money" on The Blueprint. He's since proven this sentiment true. Today, we're looking at the biggest business ventures from Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers of all time.
This one goes without even needing to be mentioned. Jay Z was snubbed by record companies across New York due to his age (a ridiculous sentiment when looking back). He responded by founding Roc-A-Fella Records along with Damon Dash and Kareem Burke. The label's first album would be Reasonable Doubt, the breakthrough debut project from Jay. The label would later sign Kanye West, cementing Roc-A-Fella as one of the household names in the music scene.
Roc-A-Fella would halt in 2013, with its final project being the Magna Carta Holy Grail LP. After a falling out with Dash in the late 2000s, the label would gradually deteriorate. However, the overarching reason for the label's end was multiple members were simply looking elsewhere. However, Jay Z's first business venture was undeniably his most important. He would leverage its massive success for the rest of his career (both musically and financially).
Jay Z officially partnered with Bacardi to release D'USSE Cognac back in 2012. Over the past decade, it's become one of the largest-selling spirits in history. A brandy produced in France, the brand was created with a vision to offer something different to American consumers. Jay Z has spearheaded the brand's creative direction, contributing to the products' disruption of the spirits industry.
However, Jay's partnership with Bacardi has recently been the source of controversy. After expressing his desire to sell his 50 percent stake in the company last year, Bacardi offered him $500m. The situation would morph into an ugly legal battle, as Jay Z claimed his stake should be worth around $1.5 billion. As of February, the two parties came to an agreement. Jay would make $750 million in the deal while retaining a significant ownership stake in the company.
Rocawear, a clothing line, was released as a subset of Roc-A-Fella Records. At its peak, the initiative would generate annual sales that superseded $700 million. While Jay Z would eventually sell his ownership rights for an estimated $200 million, he would continue to oversee marketing and product development. The company would later partner with Pharell Williams' Billionaire Boys Club clothing label in 2011, re-invigorating the company's value and name recognition. Rocawear continues to sell clothing that fits into the aesthetic of downtown New York, from oversized cargo pants to casual glamour that fits the stylistic trends of Manhattan.
A pristine sports bar chain based in New York City, Jay Z co-founded the 40/40 Club with business partner Juan Perez in 2003. Adorned with luxurious decor and iconic sports memorabilia, the spot is also known for hosting private music events where Lil Uzi Vert and (of course) Jay Z have performed. Jay initially had worldwide aspirations for the sports bar, wanting to build locations in Tokyo and Singapore in the early 2000s. The plans never materialized, and the 40/40 Club exclusively exists in New York. However, the initiative is another example of Jay Z looking to expand his presence beyond music.
Jay Z and Jay Brown founded Roc Nation, a multi-personified entertainment company. Founded in 2008, the company contains various sub-companies ranging from a recording label to concert production. The company is home to artists such as Future, Rihanna, J Cole, and Big Sean. Roc Nation is likely his most successful business venture to date, as the company transcends a variety of creative and athletic lanes. The company's current valuation is around $140 million.
By 2013, Roc Nation had founded Roc Nation Sports, home to names such as Kevin Durant and Victor Cruz. Jay Z would have to give up his $4.5 million stake in the Brooklyn Nets to begin the sports agency, as there would be an illegal conflict of interest.
The first artist-owned streaming service, Jay Z released Tidal in 2015 along with her wife, Beyonce. He originally purchased the obscure Norwegian streaming service for $56.5 million, re-branding it as a "artist-first" company. The overarching reason for the initiative was to give musicians more creating autonomy over their profits. Services such as Spotify have long been criticized for not fairly paying artists.
In retrospect, Tidal was an admirable effort that ultimately fell flat. Failing to create a valuable differentiating point for consumers, Tidal struggled to pull consumers away from other services. In addition, they were hit with several lawsuits upon launching. While the idea was rooted in looking to support artists, it proved that running an essential service involves far more roadblocks than was anticipated.
Armand de Brignac
Additionally known as Ace of Spaces, Armand de Brignac is a French Champagne owned by Jay Z. Owning the brand since 2014, the beverage contains roots from French winemaking houses in the 1600s. Before the pandemic, the brand was approaching one million bottle sales annually. Like many of Jay Z's other business ventures, Armand de Brignac is a luxury-based brand that appeals to a wealthy consumer base.
Recently, Jay Z sold a 50 percent stake in the company to LVMH. They own other name-brand champagnes such as Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot. Jay stated, "We are confident that the sheer power of LVMH in developing luxury brands will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further." Jay Z reportedly made over $300 million from the deal, cementing his status as a billionaire.
While Jay Z is most well-known for creating (or purchasing) other businesses and building them up, he's also proven to be an intelligent angel investor. A primary example of this was his $2 million purchase of a stake in Uber back in 2011. Seeing the company's vision for innovating the transportation industry, that stake is worth over $70 million. In fact, Uber isn't the only proof of Jay Z's competence as an investor. He's also made millions from investments in JetSmarter, Julep, and Away. In addition, he's supported a variety of exciting startups that display exciting levels of potential.