I was on Twitter today (if you notice that’s where most of my inspiration to write comes from) and I saw a link (the link is attached to this post at the end of this post) to an article titled “Jay Z’s Brand is Suffering Because People Don’t Trust Him”. I kind of got offended and defensive immediately because Jay Z is my favorite rapper and it’s hard to take criticism about your favorite artists. So I ignored it. But then the link came across my timeline again and I judged it before reading it. I tweeted something like “what does that mean people don’t trust Jay Z? How much should I trust a rapper?” But then I realized it was just best for me to read the article and after I did, my opinion completely changed.
The article is basically saying that a celebrity branding expert by the name of Jeetendr Sehdev ”conducted a survey, and the survey says he is one of the least influential celebrities.” It goes on to say that the survey was taken by people that are 13-30 years old and they didn’t like his Samsung deal. They feel like he’s become too corporate and his art is coming second to his business. They don’t like this which is why they aren’t influenced by him and why he lacks authenticity.
When you break it down like this, it makes sense. I’m a 20 year old college student and I hardly know any college kids my age that want to be like Jay Z or mess with him like that. Yes he is relevant and yes he is popular but his influence is questionable. They are more into the Kendrick Lamars, Drakes, J Cole’s, and even Wiz Khalifahs because they are closer to their age and talk about things they can relate to. Jay Z’s story doesn’t speak to them. They like his songs, but they can’t connect. To them, all he does is talk about money and fancy painters. In my eyes Jay Z is the man they want to be when they are his age, not the man they want to be right now which makes sense because the 20 year old Jay Z probably didn’t want to be the 44 year old Jay Z so why should they want to.
Jay Z saw a lot of criticism when he did the Samsung deal (Samsung bought the first million copies of his last album) and I didn’t really understand it at first because it seemed like a great business idea, but that’s part of the problem. We live in a world where kids respect the independent labels, the do it yourself hustle, and basically the anti-corporation way of doing things. So yeah, that Samsung deal was a great business move, but it wasn’t the greatest artist move. The thing that Jay Z struggles with is being an artist, but being a businessman at the same time. Which one come first? Will he do anything for money? These are relevant questions (not questions that I ask but questions that some ask).
The article then goes on to say “We rarely see this true side of him” and that he’s too closed off. Him being private is something I love about him, but not everyone thinks like me. We live in a social media society where people care about the personals and I think his wife Beyonce found a way to be personal and open at the same time. She did a documentary last year, she always releases behind the scene footage of her concerts or videos and most of all she always uses her tumblr and Instagram to upload pictures. She isn’t on Twitter telling us about her day, but she’s giving us a glimpse of her life in her own way. Does Jay Z need to do this I don’t know but it’s doing nothing but helping Beyonce.
Also another thing that Jay can learn from his wife is her Pepsi deal. She signed a $50 million deal with Pepsi that meant they would basically fund any creative projects that she wanted to do. Instead of her taking their money and endorsing their product (something that she already does with other companies), she took the money to fund her visual album. She made and released this album in a innovative way. She took the money and put it back into a project that people can benefit from. Even if you’re not going to buy it, you benefit from it. Even if you don’t like it, you benefit from it because it gives you something to talk about and it gives you something to look at. Jay’s deal didn’t benefit anyone but himself. And that’s fine I’m not saying it has to benefit anyone else, but Beyonce’s Pepsi deal seems like a better artist deal while Jay’s Samsung deal seemed more like a businessman’s deal.
Jay Z has always been a businessman and came into the game with his own label, he’s had clothing lines and colognes so being a businessman isn’t the problem. I think the problem is that you have to think about these deals and how they will affect you as an artists because that’s what comes first.
Like I said before I like Jay Z and I’m not mad at him being a businessman, get your money boo. But everyone doesn’t think like me. If his plan is to dive deeper into corporate and slowly ease off of being an artist then these deals are great, but if he wants to be an artist much longer, he’s going to need to think about these deals and how they affect him as an artist.
Let me know what you think, I love feedback.
- Jay Z’s Brand Is Suffering Because People Don’t Trust Him Anymore (businessinsider.com)