Earlier this month, Forbes asserted that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that “conservatively totals $1 billion,” making him the first hip-hop artist to reach such heights.
What was peculiar about the announcement is that it didn’t come from him unlike the time Dr Dre jumped the gun to declare himself a Billionaire before the ink from his deal with apple had even dried nor the money hit the account.
With Jay-Z his status was certified independently by Forbes magazine who have maintained a healthy obsession for him with even one of their writers publishing an unofficial biography of him and how he accumulated his wealth albeit without his consent.
Still waters definitely run deep. He’s handled his ascent into the Billionaire stratosphere magnanimously.
As a mortal, Jay-Z seems to have transcended and cracked the elusive code of life and found heaven on earth.
In his book Decoded he writes
“I don’t accept that falling is inevitable— I think there’s a way to avoid it, a way to win, to get success and its spoils, and get away with it without losing your soul or your life or both. I’m trying to rewrite the old script. ”
When you look at just how charmed his life is you get the picture that he is truly rewriting the script.
He’s married to one of the most desirable women in the world, in Beyoncé. They have a beautiful daughter and a set of twins. Quite picturesque to be honest.
He’s the most consistent solo artist of all time and is widely considered the greatest rapper to ever do it and as a middle aged artist in a genre for young people he’s managed to reign at the summit for over two decades with hit after hit. His wit and hunger have stayed potent and he never slacks when it comes to his first love, music.
As an Entrepreneur he’s widely admired and has made a slew of shrewd and fruitful investments that have consistently added the dollar signs to his name. He’s synonymous with success and those who’ve doubted him and prematurely dug an early grave for him are always eating their words after every milestone.
I could spend an entire day chronicling his accomplishments and yes, he is truly unstoppable. As his loyal friend Memphis Bleek would say, My man is touched/blessed by the gods.
When you sit back and analyse his current Billionaire milestone it’s easy to take it for granted and look upon it as a fluke or something that was just bound to happen yet if we go back to the genesis of his road to success we detect non of that promise.
As an inner city kid raised in a rough neighbourhood by a single parent the odds of just reaching middle age without succumbing to prison or death were wafer thin. Everything was terribly stacked against him and no one could have bet on him making it to a Billion.
“While it’s easy to look back on a path to success and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, & tremendous success was a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t. Success is never assured; only in hindsight does it appear that way.”
As far as hip hop goes Jay-Z was a late bloomer. His first album came out at 26 when most of his peers (Nas, Tupac and Biggie) were already certified living legends.
In a rare expression of vulnerability he reflects on that period and raps
‘It’s like ’93, ’94, Everybody doing them, I’m still stretching on the block Like “Damn, I’ma be a failure”
His late entry into the music industry wasn’t from a lack of effort, no, he actually couldn’t get a record deal as most record companies doubted his talent and could not fathom his vision.
Those rough times were a crucible that instilled the strength, desire and fortitude that would catapult him to the summit of the Rap and Business world.
As he put it
“ After every label in the industry turned us down, and I do mean every label in town, Dame, Biggs and I decided, Fuck it, why be workers anyway?”
Rejection can be quite the spring board for independence and self sufficiency if you can harvest your disappointment into action and not alow yourself to succumb to depression and melancholy.
Him together with his two partners, Damon Dash and Kareem Bigs Burke pulled themselves up by the boot straps and pooled all the money they had together to start their own label as Entrepreneurs essentially breaking ties with the norm in the industry.
It was an incredible risk at the time yet that decision to bet on themselves and trust in their own abilities and convictions paid off immensely down the line.
“We were like pioneers on the frontier, staking out new territory where we could run things ourselves. I didn’t want to give that up to become someone’s contracted employee. I’d been on my own since I was a kid. But when I could really see myself not just rapping but being part of a partnership that would run the whole show, I knew I was ready to take that step.”
As his career evolved he has consistently broken ties with convention, paving new roads for others to follow and reinventing redundant business models as he has done with Tidal, Roc Nation and the successful clothing and apparel brand Rocawear.
The industry standards of today are things Jay-Z and his posse pioneered back when the naysayers trashed it.
What I admire most about Jay Z and most consistent winners is that they seem to be competing with themselves and not their peers.
When winning becomes a way of life, true winners are relentless.
The very best are always competing against themselves to become as good as they can possibly be and they also understand that life is a marathon, not a sprint.
As Jay Z puts it :
“I never do things to get a reaction from other people, good or otherwise. My personal breakthroughs came in stages.”
When you pace yourself all you have to worry about is the man in the mirror.
As far as role models and idols go, no one else has made an impression on me quite like Jay has.
There’s only so much you can pick up from your parents and peers.
His life has been my manual for as long as I can remember.
The first time I watched a Jay Z video was at age nine or ten. Like most kids growing up in the mid-nineties, hip hop was my obsession. We all wanted to dress up or look like the popular artists.
At the time Jay was relatively unknown and unpopular but he had an ineffable aura about him.
His notable cool and swagger entranced me. I was young but but in that instant I decided that if I couldn’t be as debonair as that guy, then I had to be as close as possible.
I used to tell my friends this guy is going to be the best ever which wasn’t yet apparent at that point in his career.
Overtime he’s had a massive influence on me from my dress code down to his business principles and he has had the phenomenal career that I predicted.
You obviously can’t mimic another person and eventually you find your own rhythm or flow in this life thing like he says :
The best style is no style because styles can be figured out and when you have no style they won’t figure you out.
And in that respect I’m proud to say I’ve grown into a man who shakes an easy definition and marches to the beat of his own heart.
The most important lesson I’ve picked up from him is CONSISTENCY.
You almost always know what to expect from him. He’s a random, spontaneous and non linear person yet there’s a consistent pattern and flow to his life. If Jay Z has consigned it then best believe, it’s a straight ten!
He’s synonymous with excellence, drive, intensity, passion, style and integrity. You rarely find him offside and when he does fuck up as all of us invariably do, he does not make excuses for his actions.
That’s a rare trait to have, to live your truth regardless of the consequences. The truth effortlessly resonates through time in this fake world.
There’s a Jay-Z song for almost every scenario in life. When I had to forgive my father for his absence and give him a decent burial the song that was playing on my ipod in 2010 was Moment of Clarity where he is himself coming to terms with the demise of his estranged father.
For heart breaks and relationship problems I have Wishing on A Star and Lost Ones where he reflects on lost love from women that didn’t necessarily comprehend the direction he was taking his life. It takes a rare woman to envision the dream before it blows up and his patient approach to settling down and building a family is something I’ve also absorbed.
Everyone is in a rush to have the fanciest wedding and picture perfect marriage on Facebook yet very few have actually taken the time to choose the right life partner who compliments them not completes them because no one will ever complete your world. That’s impossible.
“I said maturely, better safe than sorry, before the lovebirds can move to the suburbs, I need to double check your story. To make sure that you’re one of a kind and you deserve to be my Sunshine”
From the above line from his song Sunshine I’ve learnt to look past appearances and focus on who a person really is and not what they appear to be.
In that respect, I never force relationships, I keep my romantic life very private and I always know the best days are ahead of me so I don’t let the burning effects heart break linger long and deal with inconsistent women with the indifference they deserve. No need to take it personally as life goes on regardless.
His business moves are even more important to my chosen career as an Entrepreneur.
In a new interview with Best Life, Jay-Z dropped some gems on business, personal tastes, and the secrets to his success.
On business: “My brands are an extension of me. They’re close to me. It’s not like
running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.”
On his personal tastes: “I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that. People have to accept that. I collect art, and I drink wine…things that I like that I had never been exposed to.
But I never said, ‘I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd.’ That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?”
“The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my
businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling
at the time, whatever direction I’m heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.”
NORE said this about Jay-Z
“He’s the most put together dude in the whole world.”
As an avid fan, I’m really proud of him for this well deserved milestone. He’s earned every single dollar with a consistent and incredible work ethic that has spanned 3 decades.
As he’s grown and matured, his audience has also levelled up with him. It’s a truly remarkable thing.
Coming from the basket case he came from he’s walked the path and blazed a trail so to speak and more than anything else has proven that it’s doable.
Regardless of your current circumstances, you too can be great.
It is important to stress that Possibilities that seem very unlikely to contemporaries are often realised so don’t seek validation from your contemporaries. The sky is the limit.
I think it’s important to have heroes and role models to look up to in life to inspire you to stay committed. Jay Z amongst others has been that shining light for me.
Heroes are the personification of success, they aren’t just abstract ideas in a text book but proof that another living, breathing human being has been exactly where you are today and persevered through the seemingly impossible. So if they did it, so can you.