Jay Z, born Shawn Corey Carter, is a prolific American rapper, record producer, as well as serial entrepreneur. As of 2015, Jay Z’s Net Worth was said to be $550 Million, according to Forbes Magazine. Since 1996 when he released his first album, Reasonable doubt, Carter has sold over 100 million records. Jay Z, as he is popularly known by his music fans grew up at Marcy Houses, which are on the tough streets of a housing project in Brooklyn, New York.
Life on Marcy House
Life on Marcy was as tough as you would imagine. Marcy is a public housing complex located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. It is a very dangerous place to live, where there is a lot of drugs activity, and extremely high rates of crime. It is therefore no surprise that Carter himself got involved in selling drugs as a young man. He also claims to have been involved in gun activity, saying he has been shot three time in his life.
Jay Z quickly realized as a young man that in order to survive the tough life on the streets of the Marcy Houses, he needed to find another way of earning a living. It so happens that he had developed a keen interest in music at an early age, and so he began writing lyrics and free styling with friends. In the early 90s, in order to further develop his rap music skills, the young Carter soon got involved in community rap battles which included the likes of LL Cool J.
However when he tried to get a deal with a recording company, none of the big record labels were prepared to risk on an unknown. Undeterred, Jay Z, began selling his CDs out of his car and that became the brainchild of a record label. He later teamed up with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs, to form their own independent label, Roc-A-Fella in 1995. Jay Z soon struck a distribution deal with Priority Records and released his first album, Reasonable Doubt. The album was a critical successful reaching number 23 on billboard 200. Reasonable doubt has also made it onto the Rolling Stone’s “5oo Greatest Albums of All Time”.
Over the years Jay Z has been involved in collaborations with a number of Top music artists.
Foxy Brown — Ain’t No Nigga (1996 Album, Reasonable Doubt)
Mary J. Blige — Can’t Knock the Hustle (1996 Album, Reasonable Doubt)
Notorious B.I.G. — Brooklyn’s Finest (1996 Album, Reasonable Doubt)
Jaz-O — Nigga What, Nigga Who? (1998 Volume 2: Album Hard Knock Life)
UGK — Big Pimpin (1999’s Volume 3: Album, The Life and Times of S. Carter)
Eminem — Renegade (2001 Album, the Blueprint)
Pharrell Williams — I Just Wanna Love U (2000 Album, the Dynasty: Roc La Familia)
Beyoncé — ’03 Bonnie & Clyde (2002 Album, Blueprint II: The Gift & the Curse
Gloria Carter — December 4th (off of 2003’s Black Album
Alicia Keys — Empire State of Mind (off of 2009’s Blueprint 3)
Jay Z has also worked with Timbaland, Kanye West, and Rihanna.
Jay Z, The Entrepreneur.
Jay Z soon extended his conquests to the business world. He has invested in a number of business projects. He partnered with Damon Dash and founded urban clothing brand Roca-Wear which has clothing lines and accessories for men, women, and children. Jay Z later sold his rights to the Roca-wear brand to Iconix Brand Group for over $200 million. Some of his long list of business activities include,
-Co-ownership of the 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar that has branches New York City, Atlantic City, and Chicago.
-Jay Z invested in Carol’s Daughter, a line of beauty products, which include products for hair, skin, and hands.
-In 2013, Jay Z sold his stake in Barclays Center for a cool $1.5 million.
– Jay Z was also part-owner of NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets before selling his ownership in 2013.
– Jay Z recently dipped his toes into real estate when he acquired a $66 million mid-block parcel in Chelsea, New York.
-In 2011, he was said to have acquire independent record label Block Starz Music.
– Jay Z also owns sports agency, Roc Nation Sports.
-Jay Z also owns Tidal, a subscription-based music streaming service.
Jay Z has said of his business ventures, “My brands are an extension of me. They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.”
So what can we learn from Jay Z`s mind-blowing success story?
First, you need to learn to become a facilitator of your own success. No one in this world will create the right environment for you to achieve your dreams. When there seems to be no chance for you, when the world seems to be offering you no chance, that is when you need to use your own savvy, and create your own opportunities. Having been refused a record deal by all the labels, Jay Z did not cry foul, or blame everyone else. Instead he remained focused and determined, and created his own chance to have his music heard. Yes it was the harder way of doing it. But whoever said achieving success was easy? Be creative and develop ways of facilitating your own positive results. I can guarantee you here now, no one else will do it for you. It`s all up to you.
Secondly, be prepared to forge strategic partnerships. Find out who you can work with in whatever projects that you are involved in. As you can see from Jay Z`s story, throughout his career, be it in music or business, he has always worked and collaborated with strategic individuals. Find those people who will add value into what you are doing and create ways of roping them in, to help you achieve your own goals.
Jay Z story also shows us that there is power in diversification. Broadening your business scope will help you identify opportunities that are out there which you could exploit in order to bring success into your own life. Yes it is good to specialise when you start, but at certain levels of success you need to step out and see how else you can expand your empire, and grow immensely rich in the process.
You must also learn to use your life skills and past experiences to your advantage. Every experience that you have had in your life and the skills that you gain from them, can give your an edge when trying to navigate past some of life`s challenges. Jay Z`s tough, early childhood, and also the short period he spent selling drugs on the streets provided him with the early selling strategies and skills for his new music career, when he was selling CDs out of his car. Selling drugs taught him how to sell, and also helped him understand his customer base and how to reach them. His is also a classic example of how you can use a negative part of your life to bring positive results.
These are just some of the points that I think you can use to generate inspiration for your own life success. Life is what you make it, so go out there with a new zeal, a new motivation, and just like Jay Z did, create your own luck.