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How eco-socialist rapper NoName is using her platform for good

Following several philanthropic headlines featuring Jay Z, NoName took to Twitter to express her stance on giving back. She called for Jay Z to “partner with some black-owned worker coops.”

Responses to the tweet were disapproving of the idea, pointing out Jay-Z’s history of helping the black community. That’s when NoName made a pointed observation. Capitalism facilitates oppression and therefore cannot facilitate true liberation.

What’s a Co-op?

Noname doesn’t just talk the talk, she makes moves. Peep her work with co-ops in Jackson Mississippi. A “co-op” comes from the word cooperative, and the people involved do just that.

People come together to work on providing a service and reap the benefits and profits together as opposed to an owner making the money from other people’s labor.

According to “A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes.”

The point is, the co-op structure is a truly democratic way of dispersing and sharing wealth and resources.

Doing the work

If you couldn’t tell from her posts, NoName supports systems that are outside of capitalism structures and preferably renewable.

Placing emphasis on how capitalism has created oppressive structures and feeds off of them.

Historical knowledge is important in order to understand just how invasively powerful capitalism in the oppression of people of color and the Black community specifically.

Her newly formed book club is particularly adept at recommending works that provide insights into the past, present, and future of conscious activism.

NoName originally rose to fame through her music. A master lyricist, she came up with fellow artist Chance the Rapper. Now, sis is continuing to produce music but is using her platform for social change and economic revolution. Stop sleeping on NoName.

Is it all about a bag or is this Roc Nation and NFL partnership real?

Jay-Z has been an entertainer at the forefront of social justice and change in recent memory. He has helped out struggling families financially, lent lawyers to underprivileged people in sticky situations with the law, and been a leader in advocating for social change when needed.

That is why this move comes as quite a shock.

Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z in 2008, has reached an agreement with the NFL to lead the league’s entertainment endeavors. These endeavors include helping the NFL select artists for several marquee events like the Super Bowl, and playing a “key role in the production and promotion of new music.”

This is a sure-fire way to get a bag. Still, there were reports last year that Jay-Z rejected the 2018 Super Bowl to show “solidarity” to Colin Kaepernick. And then he dissed the people that did perform.

Who could forget Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback that was blackballed by the league because he attempted to call awareness to systematic oppression and social injustice?

Jay-Z has helped out a tremendous amount of people. Plus, he has stood up against injustice time and time again. But above all else, he is about his money and looking to secure the next bag at whatever cost.

Eric Reid, the former teammate of Kaepernick, who was blackballed along with him until he returned to the league last year, had some thoughts on the move from Roc Nation and reminded people to stay woke.

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was similarly optimistic about the partnership. “Roc Nation is one of the most globally influential and impactful organizations in entertainment,” he said. “The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country.”

But does the NFL really have a desire to inspire meaningful social change across the country? No. The NFL is a business, and it looks out for its own best interests. Chalk those other lines up to a good PR move, which Jay-Z is helping sponsor.


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Unfortunately, it seems like Jay-Z is doing the same thing here. And when you look at it from the perspective that Ernest Owens lays out above, it comes across as even worse: exploitative.

Jay-Z is giving credibility to the claim that the NFL is working to help affect social change when most of us know this is not true. This partnership from Jay-Z’s perspective is hypocritical, selfish, and purely capitalistic.

It remains to be seen what Jay-Z will do with Roc Nation’s collab with the NFL, but as of now, it looks like the only interests Jay-Z is furthering are his own. Only time will tell and we can only wonder how Beyonce feels about all of this.

Made in America Fest 2019 is full of good vibes, hot music, and great causes

Last year’s Made in America Fest. was chock full of great performances… Nicki Minaj, Janelle Monáe, Based God, Tekashi 69 (aka Lil Lord Voldemort), Meek Mill, Jay Rock, and more.

It was fun. Still, this year, it’s finna be the movie we’ve all been waiting to see. For MIA Fest ’19 headliners Travis Scott and Cardi B will grace the stage. We are sure everyone will be raging — Budweiser in hand.

Not to mention a performance from Juice Wrld whose appearance at Made in America last year rocked the TIDAL stage. Fans held on to stoplights and climbed trees just to get a peek of Juice Wrld’s clout.

For sure, the 20-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter, will crush his set at Made in America 2019, especially if heavy hitters like James Blake, Anderson .Paak, and Jorja Smith are supporting acts.

Additionally, uncle Jay-Z is back at it again with his philanthropic vibes. Over two years he has helped 21 Savage and Meek Mill, handling their legal business godfather style. Then he got the case of a Florida 6th-grader dismissed for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now, for Made in America 2019, he looks to give back and have a positive impact on all the communities involved.

Since the inaugural two-day concert in 2012, the event has generated $102.8 million in economic impact for the city. Produced by Roc Nation, this year’s festival will once again benefit the ACLU of Pennsylvania as its official charity partner.

Additionally, a portion of net proceeds will also support The REFORM Alliance. What’s the REFORM Alliance? The initiative’s purpose looks to remove one million people from the criminal justice system within five years. Boss!

Furthermore, the festival not only honors artists and music lovers, but it also benefits organizations that are vital to accomplishing much needed positive work through Cause Village.

As always Made in America is going down at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA and for those unable to attend, global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL, will live stream the festival on

Of course, TIDAL members will have access to a special pre-sale beginning on Tuesday, April 2 at 10 am EDT through Thursday, April 4 at 10 pm EDT. Plus, those who sign up for TIDAL to access the presale will receive a free three-month trial.

The perks for copping TIDAL? Members attending the festival will have access to a wide array of exclusive benefits including fast track entrance, and TIDAL lounge access with air conditioning.

Other come ups include seating and complimentary phone charging, artist meet and greets, ticket upgrades, limited-edition merchandise and premium views of the main stage on the TIDAL VIP riser. Honestly, all of these perks at Made in America were very lit last year.

Hopefully, we’ll see you there fam.

Jay-Z to the rescue! 11-year-old freed after not standing for pledge of allegiance

Jay Z and Roc Nation have been flexing their political muscle and influence quite a bit recently and it’s been one of the most refreshing things to witness.

Last year they hired lawyers for Meek Mill who got locked up for a petty probation violation; last month they helped form a coalition called The Reform Alliance to help push prison reform. Additionally, it was Hov who intervened in 21 Savage’s case when ICE officials wanted to deport him due to his expired visa.

Now, The Root is reporting that Roc Nation has stepped in to help an 11-year-old boy who refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance case dismissed.

On On Feb. 4,  Jabari Talbot told his substitute teacher at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Fl., that the American flag is racist against Black people and that he wouldn’t be standing.

According to Bay News 9, the teacher recapped everything in a handwritten statement, saying: “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live,” she reportedly told him.

Talbot responded, “They brought me here.”

She said: “Well you can always go back because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here any more I would find another place to live.” She added, “Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”

Shortly after Jabari was arrested by a school resource officer on counts that he’d been disruptive and refused to obey commands. The arrest affidavit also states that Jabari threatened the substitute teacher with physical violence and told the principal and arresting officer he would get them fired.

The moment went viral and eventually got to Roc Nation’s desk where they enlisted the help of attorney Alex Spiro to assist.

“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a statement obtained via Complex.

“He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the First Amendment.”

The ROC nation team’s case prevailed and the case has now been dismissed. In a statement to Complex, Talbot’s mom thanked the Roc Nation family for their efforts and commitment to justice.

“My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately […]” she said.

Talbot’s mother continued,

“Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

A company that was once founded on artist management, has now moved on to being a full-on label, sports agency, and crisis firm?

Well done, Hov. Well done.


Kanye files trademark for ‘Yeezy Sound,’ is he starting new streaming service?

Kanye West may be trying to start his own streaming service according to documents obtained by The Blast.

According to the Blast, Kanye has filed for trademark of “Yeezy Sound,”

“The Blast obtained documents filed this month by Kanye’s reps to trademark ‘Yeezy Sound’ for purposes that include ‘Streaming of music, audio, images, video and other multimedia content over the internet.'”

This news comes amidst increasing tensions between Kanye and his former mentor and friend Jay-Z. Earlier this summer, Kanye pulled his discography from Jay’s streaming service Tidal and Ye’s legal reps sent a letter to Tidal claiming breach of contract.

TMZ reported at the time,

“Our sources say a month ago Kanye’s lawyer sent a letter to Tidal, saying the company was in breach and the contract was terminated. Over the next 2 weeks lawyers for both sides tried to resolve the conflict but failed. We’re told 2 weeks ago Kanye’s lawyer fired off a second letter declaring again the contract was over.”

TMZ reported that Kanye hadn’t been compensated for bringing new users over to Tidal when his The Life of Pablo album dropped and that the streaming service hadn’t paid him back for music videos.

From TMZ,

“We’re told Kanye’s beef with Tidal is twofold — his The Life of Pablo album resulted in 1 1/2 million new subscribers to Tidal, for which he was supposed to get a bonus but the company hasn’t paid. Kanye also says Tidal reneged on reimbursing him for music videos.”

It’s unfortunate to see Kanye and Jay-Z feuding like this, Jay went at Kanye on multiple tracks on his 4:44 album. Perhaps Kanye wanting his own streaming service goes deeper than his beef with Jay, but the optics speak for themselves.

I’m not sure we need another boutique streaming service and few, if any of them, are profitable whatsoever. Kanye, who has been outspoken about his massive debt, may be making an unsound financial decision by going into streaming, but of course ‘Yeezy Sound’ will definitely be wavy.

Meek Mill’s prison sentence is a harsh reminder of an unjust system

Yesterday, rapper Meek Mill was sentenced to 2-4 years in state prison for parole violations. Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced Meek Mill for violations stemming from a gun and drug case from 2008.

The Judge cited an altercation at a St. Louis airport and a reckless driving case from NYC as sufficient grounds to sentence Meek despite the fact that both charges were dropped.

For Meek Mill to still be suffering from a nearly decade old case from when he was 18 is all too representative of the failures of the justice system, especially for young Black Americans.

Meek spoke to Billboard back in July after the release of his latest album Wins & Losses about having a permanent charge on his record that keeps him in the system,

“I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops are in a dangerous neighborhood thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don’t think that’s really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don’t want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I’m 30 now and still on probation. I’ve been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you’ll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took.”

And now, Meek Mill’s freedom has been taken again for riding a motorcycle and getting into an argument at the St. Louis airport.

Many in the hip-hop world reacted to Meek’s sentence with anger and shock.

Jay-Z wrote on Facebook about the ‘unjust and heavy handed’ ruling by the judge,

“The sentence handed down by the Judge — against the recommendation of the Assistant District Attorney and Probation Officer — is unjust and heavy handed. We will always stand by and support Meek Mill, both as he attempts to right this wrongful sentence and then in returning to his musical career.”

T.I. offered his support for Meek through this ordeal.

Nipsey Hussle, Isaiah Thomas, and Questlove posted about the nature of the system

Kevin Hart also showed his support to this fellow Philly-native

Ultimately, the whole thing is just sad.

Meek Mill’s lawyer has claimed they will appeal the ruling. It’s definitely shitty to see Meek go through this. Sure, he’s made some mistakes but getting a sentence of 2-4 years in prison for minuscule charges that have been dropped is not any form of justice.

Hold ya head Meek. Hopefully true justice is coming your way.

Nine years ago Jay-Z and Kanye tried to save hip-hop with ‘Watch the Throne’

On August 8th 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West released Watch the Throne, maybe the most epic collaboration album in the history of hip-hop.

It was also the artistic culmination of Jay-Z and Kanye’s partnership, starting back in 2000 when Kanye’s sample-driven beats revitalized Hov’s sound.

Listening to Watch the Throne now, it still feels relevant, modern, and very much present.

The album represented a bit of a departure for both Jay and Kanye. Some of the production on Watch the Throne was kind of out there.

Songs like “Gotta Have It,” “Ni**as in Paris,” “Who Gon Stop Me,” “H*A*M*,” and “Why I Love You” featured massive, EDM-inspired production that sounded completely different than anything Kanye or Jay-Z had done before.

“Otis” and “The Joy” brought that standard Kanye-sampling sound back to the forefront.

It’s interesting to look at Jay and Ye’s comments about the meaning behind their album.

Jay even said the title Watch the Throne was basically a way of saying that hip-hop was still king as indie rock and EDM rose to prominence in the early 2010s.

Back in 2011, Jay told Miami’s 99 Jamz radio host Lorenzo Thomas that Watch the Throne was really about establishing that culture:

“It’s just protecting the music and the culture. It’s people that’s in the forefront of music, it’s like Watch the Throne, protect it. You just watch how popular music shifts and how hip-hop has basically replaced rock and roll as the youth music. The same thing could happen to hip-hop, it could be replaced by other forms of music. So it’s just making sure that we put that effort into making the best product so we can contend with all this other music, with all the dance music that’s dominating the charts right now and indie music that’s dominating the festivals and still hold off rock ‘n’ roll. Just to hold our place and make sure that the hip-hop culture is still the most dominant form of music around the world.”

Looking back to 2011, when Avicii and Swedish House Mafia made European EDM popular in America and Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Coldplay dominated the pop charts, perhaps it looked like hip-hop was losing its stranglehold on the zeitgeist.

But now, that’s almost laughable. Hip-hop music is popular music. EDM has sort of faded back into niche status, creating interesting sub-genres but nothing compared to the maximalism of early 2010 dance music and no one really listens to rock anymore.

Maybe that’s because Kanye and Jay watched the throne nine years ago.

Regardless, hip-hop and its culture just have more staying power than any other popular music in America.

When listening to WTT, the biggest difference between August 2011 and now is that Jay and Kanye are no longer on speaking terms.

Au contraire, they’re throwing shots at each other.

It’s unclear when all the discontent really started and there were rumors of arguments and disagreements for awhile, but the beef came to the forefront when Kanye went on one of his rants at a concert in November.

After talking about… a lot of stuff including Trump winning, Hillary Clinton, Q-Tip, Mark Zuckerberg looking for aliens, Beyonce winning best video, and his debt, Kanye turned his attention to Jay-Z. Ye said of Hov:

“Jay Z, call me, bruh. You still ain’t calling me. Jay Z, call me. Aye, bruh, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head. Just call me. Talk to me like a man. I’m not trying to be the man. I just am a man, the same as anybody here.”

Kanye was hospitalized after this show and cancelled the rest of his Saint Pablo Tour due to exhaustion.

For his part, Jay had stayed pretty silent on the subject… until 4:44.

Lyrics on songs like “Kill Jay-Z” were clearly aimed at ‘Ye:

“You dropped outta school, you lost your principles/ I know people backstab you, I feel bad too/ But this fuck everybody attitude ain’t natural/But you ain’t a saint, this ain’t KumbaYe/ But you got hurt because you think KumbaYe/ You gave him 20 million without thinkin’/ He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?/ ‘Fuck wrong with everybody?’ is what you sayin’/ But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.”

It’s fucked up and sad that it’s come to this point.

Watch the Throne was one of the wildest albums to ever come out of modern music. It might have just ensured that hip-hop remained the popular genre of music in America forever.

We just hope Kanye and Jay-Z bury the hatchet soon, get back in the studio, and give us Watch the Throne 2.

We’re not holding our breath though.

Lead designer on ‘Story of O.J.’ video tells us what it’s like to work with Jay-Z

Jay-Z’s visuals for “The Story of O.J.” feels like an important moment in the history of rap music.

The second track off of Hov’s controversial album 4:44 serves as an educational, racial, and financial depiction of the identity of African-Americans.

The video, which was exclusively available on Tidal, went public on YouTube last week allowing wide access to the content. If you haven’t seen it yet please take some time to peep it below. Warning: You need to watch this.

Directors for the video Mark Romanek and Jay-Z collaborated over the course of six weeks with a team of animators, 3D modelers, and designers to produce this mind-boggling masterpiece.

Can you imagine working on a project that holds so much racial subject matter? Rustam Hasanov, lead character designer on the project, can.

Not sure how long this will be up. I was the lead character designer, weirdest gig I ever had #SToryOfOJ

— Rustam Hasanov (@RustamHasanov2) July 6, 2017

In an exclusive interview with Kulture Hub, we asked Rustam about his experience working on Hov’s latest masterpiece.

According to Hasanov, who has worked on the Game of Thrones intro concept design and as art director on the animated Netflix movie Trollhunter, “The Story of O.J.” was a special project,

“It was definitely different. More than anything else, the timeline of this was really tight and the budget was pretty tight. Basically, the whole project was finished in 6 weeks and if you are familiar with animation that’s a very fast turn around on something like this, especially for something this sensitive in terms of the subject matter.”

Jay-Z The Story Of Oj GIF by Universal Music Africa - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hasanov continued,

“There was a ballpark, a gray area, of what we could hit and if we didn’t quite get it right I knew it could be catastrophic and that it could be misconstrued and misinterpreted in terms of what the intention behind the video was. So, we were very careful about how we were going to address all the stereotypes and how we were going to clarify exactly what the designs were going to say.”

What was the biggest challenge? Hasanov had to imagine what it would be like to be a 1930s cartoonist.

“Imagine doing these horrible racial stereotypes and turning them into entertainment for children. If you are an artist you know exactly what you are doing and you know that it’s bad, but they did it anyway. That’s exactly what we were doing too. That was the part we were nervous about, are we just repeating the same thing and are we fetishizing these stereotypes or are we making a statement? To us very much, we were on the side that we are not regurgitating this content, we’re making a statement about it.”

Hasanov had no idea what he was getting himself into. All he knew was that he always wanted to work on something that had meaning behind it.

Rustam Hasanov

One day, Hasanov received an email from his colleague Lisha Tan, the creative director on the project.

Tan and Hasanov worked on projects together before and she knew he was the right fit. His experience creating environments and characters, as well as working with tight deadlines was exactly what the project called for.

It was when Tim Delvin, art director of “The Story of O.J.,” pitched Hasanov the project, showed him the storyline, and said it was for Jay-Z he knew that it was a great fit.

“I found out from Tim Delvin who was the art director. I basically came in, he pitched the project to me, what the idea was and said, ‘it is for Jay-Z.’ At that point, I didn’t know the song and I thought, ‘God this could go very wrong’ because he just showed some imagery – the racist references and cartoons were shown to me first. Yeah, that was a little unnerving.”

Rustam Hasanov

Hasanov continued,

“But, I was excited because this is exactly the kind of thing I should be working on. Up to that point, I was really anxious to work on something like this, something that had a lot of meaning behind it. As soon as he said that I was a little bit nervous, but then I was like, ‘Oh man! This is going to be great.'”

I wondered what it was like to see the imagery for the video before hearing the song that would go with it. I asked Hasanov what he felt like after he heard the whole track. This was his “Oh shit” moment.

“Once I listened to the song and understood what the message was, I was like, ‘Ok I have to do everything I possibly can to make sure this is done right because if it’s done right, this could be an incredible and powerful message.’ I think after I listened to the song that was my holy shit moment because that’s when I realized what the potential of this song could be.”

A lot of potential indeed. Race is definitely a very touchy subject. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be white and work on a project that brings racial tension to light like “The Story of O.J.” does.

Rustam Hasanov

Hasanov doesn’t think being white is an excuse to opt out of the conversation.

“If you’re white I think it’s kind of a way to opt out of the conversation just by using the excuse, ‘I didn’t have these experiences, so I shouldn’t have an opinion about it.’ And I think that’s completely wrong. I just think racial relations or just race and the context and the history of all that is so important to the entire identity of this country. If you’re someone that doesn’t have an opinion on it or if you don’t want to have the conversation, I think, it’s almost irresponsible.”

“The Story of O.J.” is very complex and has a lot of underlying messages. It took me a couple of views to understand the context of the video.

One thing that stood out to me and Hasanov was the Nina Simone sample, “Four Women.” The four women represent four different generations.

Nina Simone is represented as the last generation in the song, the archetypal black slave woman that was taken from Africa brought to this country and sold on the block. There’s also the burlesque dancer and the Scrub Me Mama character.

Story of Oj
Rustam Hasanov

In relation to the four generations presented in the video, Hasanov explained,

“We tried to echo the song with those characters and how they represent continuing generations, from one to the next. The song suggests that Jay is really speaking to the fifth generation. How do we build on what we learned from history and use that to define and own this new identity?

Hasanov wasn’t a fan of Jay-Z, until this project. Working on “The Story of O.J.,” Hasanov learned how to approach a sensitive subject in the right way and that you cannot side step away from the truth.

He found a new respect for the Marcy artist saying,

“One thing that made me respect Jay-Z a lot as an artist is there was a moment where we had an early version of the storyboard for the music video that we gave to him. We were waiting anxiously on a response and the response he gave us was ‘it wasn’t hard hitting enough.’ He wanted more of a gut punch with the imagery. That made me feel like ‘whoa, he really wants to say something intense he doesn’t want to side step anything'”

The song and video made Hasanov develop a new understanding of a culture that he stands outside of.

slavery Story of Oj
Rustam Hasanov

There are no real solutions provided in “The Story of O.J.” but to Hasanov, what’s most important is that it starts a conversation.

“To me, I don’t necessarily think there are any solutions provided in the video of how we can move on but the power in the video is that it’s going to start a conversation and its going to make people more self aware of how to go about doing that. That’s very powerful.”

Peep more of Hasanov’s work over at his Instagram.

Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Tidal set for legal fight over $3 million dispute

Kanye West has been one of the most prominent artists to support Tidal ever since Jay-Z relaunched the streaming service back in March 2015.

Now there appears to be some trouble in Roc-A-Fella paradise as Kanye has pulled his catalog from Tidal over claims that he’s owed more than $3 million, according to TMZ.

West’s camp apparently sent a letter to Tidal last month, claiming that the streaming service owed Kanye money. TMZ reports the details,

“Our sources say a month ago Kanye’s lawyer sent a letter to Tidal, saying the company was in breach and the contract was terminated. Over the next 2 weeks lawyers for both sides tried to resolve the conflict but failed. We’re told 2 weeks ago Kanye’s lawyer fired off a second letter declaring again the contract was over.”

In lieu of Jay-Z’s rather critical remarks about Kanye on his new album 4:44, which dropped last Friday, there was some speculation that Mr. West’s actions were a response to Jay-Z’s lyrics, but this legal dispute seems to have dragged on for at least a month previous.

Part of the beef is over alleged non-payment to Kanye West over an exclusive streaming deal regarding West’s The Life of Pablo album. TMZ reports,

“Kanye’s beef with Tidal is twofold — his The Life of Pablo album resulted in 1 1/2 million new subscribers to Tidal, for which he was supposed to get a bonus but the company hasn’t paid. Kanye also says Tidal reneged on reimbursing him for music videos.”

Tidal’s official stance is that Kanye never delivered the videos as expected,

“Our sources say Tidal’s position is that Kanye didn’t deliver the videos required by the contract. Kanye’s response … I’ll deliver the videos when you pay me what I’m owed.”

Although Tidal is a company acting out of its own best interests, it’s hard not to see this fight as a very literal Kanye vs. Jay-Z beef, especially after Hov’s criticism of Kanye on 4:44.

This is a rather unfortunate turn of events for two artists that were once best of friends, even brothers.

Kanye owes much of his career to Jay-Z, and Kanye produced or featured on some of Jay’s biggest hits.

Now that lawyers are involved, the whole thing is sure to get ugly. Hopefully both artists can bury the hatchet and get back to making music together, although it’s unclear that that’s ever possible.

jay z

From Marcy to Millions: How Hov became the ultimate businessman

Jay-Z went from being a hustler on the streets of Brooklyn to an international icon. How does a rapper out of the Marcy Projects become a mogul? Genius marketing.

Over the years, Hov has managed to market himself and his brand by collaborating with the right companies and people.

Jay-Z’s work with Sprint for his album 4:44 was incredible. The package? Six months of streaming service Tidal for free, exclusive access to Jay-Z’s album, and all the content surrounding it.

For the marketing campaign Jay-Z placed ads all over NYC, including several subway stations like the Jay St. stop in Brooklyn as well as Times Square. Signs were also spotted in Los Angeles.

The Brooklyn rapper didn’t stop there. He proceeded to premier an ad during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The ad cast Mahershala Ali and left Jay-Z fans with hints of a possible short film featuring Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o as well as Donald Glover.

To make the hype even crazier, Tidal tweeted last night that you have to sign up for the streaming service before midnight in order to experience 4:44.

If you didn’t sign up for Tidal before midnight, you are basically fucked. The only way you could experience the exclusive content is by switching to Sprint.

Genius marketing. Especially since Sprint acquired a 33 percent stake of Tidal, bumping the music streaming service’s worth to $600 million. The partnership also makes Tidal available to Sprint’s 45 million retail customers.

Looking back, this isn’t the first time International Hov has used his business savvy to promote an album.

Remember Magna Carta Holy Grail? Jay-Z paired up with Samsung to release his 12th solo album on July 4th back in 2013.

You know what’s boss af?

Pairing up with Samsung and not only striking a $20 million deal, but having them pay for the marketing and front $5 million to purchase 1 million copies of your album.

Let’s take another look at a small step Jay-Z took and turned it into a big business. His promotion of Armand de Brignac, the iconic gold bottle with an ace of spade on it.

No one had ever really heard of the champagne before Jay-Z premiered it in his video for his hit song “Show Me What You Got.”

Back then everyone was poppin’ Cristal, but Jay-Z was responsible for everybody changing their expensive beverage of choice.

So why Champagne Armand de Brignac? Three minutes into the video above you see a waiter bring Hov a bottle of Cristal Champagne but he dubs it and tells him to fetch the gold bottle with the ace of spade.

Why all the beef? Hov boycotted Cristal because of offensive comments from the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud. Rozaud spoke to the Economist in regards to the association between Cristal and the bling lifestyle and if it could actually hurt the brand,

“That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

Hov pulled the champagne from his small chain of popular sports lounges — where bottles of Cristal sold for $450 and $600. In response to Rouzaud’s comments, he said,

“It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the ‘hip-hop’ culture as ‘unwelcome attention,”’ Jay-Z said. “I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including the 40/40 Club nor in my personal life.”

Guess what Hov’s next move was? Copping his own champagne. Jay-Z was paid millions of dollars and equity in Sovereign Brands to promote the champagne brand, Armand de Brignac, that no-one had heard of.

In Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, Zack O’Malley Greenburg broke down Jigga’s profit:

“The production cost per bottle of Armand de Brignac is about $13; the wholesale price is $225. The maximum output is 60,000 bottles per year. If Jay Z splits the $212-per-bottle profit evenly with Cattier and Sovereign, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests his annual take would be a little over $4 million.”


Moving on to the next venture that Jay-Z absolutely crushed, his work with search engine Bing and his autobiography Decoded was revolutionary once again.

Bing and Jay-Z collaborated and created probably one of the best marketing campaigns the web has ever seen. Media was calling the campaign “Rap’s Rosetta Stone.”

For the collab, Bing and Hov dropped a page of the book every day in a new location over the course of a month leading up to the autobiography’s release. Each location was inspired by a different story on each page.

Pages were placed in 13 major cities in the US. This allowed fans to experience Hov’s story in real time, putting the entire biography in context.

A bronze plaque was installed in the Marcy Projects, an entire Cadillac was wrapped in a page and paid homage to the birthplace of hip-hop, and a page was even transcribed onto the floor at the Delano Pool in Miami.


The campaign helped Bing acquire an 11.7 percent increase in visits, enter the global top 10 most visited sites, and earn 1.1 billion media impressions.

Jay-Z’s Facebook followers grew by 1.1 million and Decoded was a NYT bestseller for 19 weeks. This was all in the course of one month.

Let’s not forget about Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation. Founded in 2008, the full-service entertainment company houses a record label, talent agency, a touring and concert production company, music, film, and television production company, and a music publishing house.

The client list includes some of the world’s most recognizable names: from Rihanna, Shakira, J. Cole, and Big Sean to Yoenis Cespedes, Kevin Durant, Dez Bryant, and Robinson Cano.

To jump start Roc Nation’s music distribution, Hov signed a 4-year distribution deal with Sony Music back in 2009. Following their success in 2010, Roc Nation partnered with London-based entertainment company Three Six Zero Group.

In February 2013, Roc Nation made major moves, signing a worldwide music publishing administration deal with Warner/Chappell Music.

Even after the Sony deal expired, Hov managed to get a multi-year partnership with Universal Music.

Music is not Roc Nation’s only money maker. The sports division brought in a whopping $19.2 million as of September 2016, representing less than 20 clients. That is a major move.

Peep Dez Bryant throwing up the Roc.

Jay-Z has got the Midas touch. Just this year, Roc Nation announced the formation of Arrive, a new division of the company that will focus on investing and nurturing promising startups. Hov will own the past, present, and future.

What can’t this man do!