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The Fame And Fortune Of Jay Z

Rapper and businessman Jay Z came up hard in Brooklyn to become a major mogul. We’ll look at the world and message of Jay Z’s fame and fortune.

This May 1, 2013 file photo shows Jay-Z at "The Great Gatsby" world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision via AP)

This May 1, 2013 file photo shows Jay-Z at “The Great Gatsby” world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision via AP)

If you know Jay Z, you know his story. He never stops rapping about it.

The Brooklyn kid who came up hard, dealt crack, broke out and up into the music business, went big. And then bigger. To mogul status. Empire builder. Beyonce on his arm. Warren Buffet at his side. Swanning through the White House.

A king, he raps in his new album. A god. Well, definitely an icon.

This hour, On Point: The life, times and message of American icon, Jay Z.

– Tom Ashbrook


Andrew Rice, contributing editor for New York Magazine, whose latest piece is “‘Oh, I’m So Good At Math’: Lessons From The Jay-Z Business Model.” (@riceid)

James Braxton Peterson, director of Africana Studies, professor of English at Lehigh University, and founder of Hip Hop Scholars.(@DrJamesPeterson)

Interview Highlights

James Braxton Peterson on Jay Z’s pivotal role in the hip hop world:

“Jay Z has sort of perfected the craft of rapping and rhyming.”
– James Braxton Peterson

“Where we can all, I think, find some consensus and agreement is on the fact that Jay Z has sort of perfected the craft of rapping and rhyming. Obviously this form has been around since the mid-’70s, has gone through different developments in different eras. Hip hop culture has kind of unfolded as the information era has unfolded. And so, along with the sort of corollary technological developments and the differences in production styles, hip hop has endured as American popular culture. And Jay Z has — and we could debate about the content of his work, and I think that’s worth having a discussion — but the actual form of rapping, he’s simply one of the best. When you take a look at his work, his use of prosody, his use of illusions, his rhyme schemes, his style, his braggadocio, all of those things situate him close to or at the top in terms of the ranking of MCs and different rap artists over the course of the history of hip hop culture.”

Andrew Rice on Jay Z’s business savvy and Samsung’s promotion of his new album:

“He would be an equally fine subject matter for a business school course … In a way, he has not only a great deal to offer scholars of poetry and music but also people who are looking for lessons on how to make money off of music, which as increasingly difficult thing to do these days.

“Just like everyone else in America, I was taken by surprise when, during Game 5 of the NBA finals, all of a sudden a three-minute commercial — which is like the “Lawrence of Arabia” commercials comes on:

“Basically what happened is, if you went to the website you’re directed to, you found out that if you owned a Samsung phone or tablet, you could download an app; that app would give you kind of clues to the nature of the songs, the lyrics and so on, and ultimately would give you a free copy of the album. The benefit for Jay Z of this deal was that Samsung bought one million copies of the album at $5 a piece, so it gave him $5 million. He basically broke even, one analyst told me, on the cost of producing the album, before he even put the thing out. The promotion — Samsung basically paid for gigantic promotional campaign that helped to push the album to the top of the billboard charts where it is now.

“Jay Z’s brand is really about being very good at branding.”
– Andrew Rice

“Jay Z’s brand is really about being very good at branding. So what Samsung buys with the association with Jay Z is the world knows, Jay Z’s fans and everyone else knows if Jay Z is associating himself with Samsung, then this must be a company that has a similarly kind of canny approach to business. His genius as a business man, if not necessarily as an artist, is that he’s been able to make it so that selling out is not just the culmination of his work, but actually the subject of his work.”

Peterson on Jay Z as a pop cultural icon:

“Over the course of time, Jay Z has positioned himself as the kind of cutting edge, at the vanguard of what’s cool.”
– James Braxton Petereson

“Over the course of time, Jay Z has positioned himself as the kind of cutting edge, at the vanguard of what’s cool. It started off just being what’s inner city, urban cool or what’s drug dealer chic type of coolness. Then he kind of expanded that into broader sets of black popular culture … At this point, his sights have been set on Americana more broadly conceived, and he’s kind of situated himself at the top of popular American culture. And he’s done that not just through the music but through all the different sort of brand influence or opportunities that he’s had … He’s done it with his own brands as well as with other brands.

“The important piece of this Samsung deal is that the album got earlier to his specific listeners. That three or four day lead time is very, very important. It’s not just about getting the album in advance; it’s about being the cool people who have the cool phone to get the cool album in advance. And that’s the kind of currency that Jay Z’s business persona and his artistic persona have crafted over the course of time. As a pop cultural figure, he really thrives at the intersection of art and commerce. And that goes from everything he does in terms of marketing and promotions to the actual music and the content of the music itself.”

[Advisory: The following song, "Holy Grail" (featuring Justin Timberlake) from Jay Z's new album "Magna Carta Holy Grail," contains explicit language.]

Rice on the “gangster story” in Jay Z’s music:

“I think that the gangster story has, for a very long time — you could even make the argument from the very beginning of his career — has been in his rear view mirror. His music has always been about making a transition from one life to a very different type of life … I think he never was rapping about violence in the same way that N.W.A. was.”

Peterson on Jay Z’s wealth and charity vs. social justice:

“I think we should still challenge him, both on the ethos of capital accumulation in this particular moment and moving away from charity — he talks a lot about charity, but I don’t hear him talking so much about justice.”
– James Braxton Peterson

“My sense of what Jay Z’s brand is probably a little bit darker … which is to say that he’s extremely well gifted at holding forth on this model of what capital accumulation looks like in the 21st century. We’re in this era where inequality is expanding, where we’re struggling with the Democratic party and with progressives to understand what that means, what does it mean in this kind of late, global, capitalist system where inequality expands even as we reach certain benchmarks in our society. I think Jay Z is a model in that particular moment where capital accumulation can still be aspirational because of where he’s come from and how he articulates. And even though he’s a singular figure, he is still a man amongst the people in certain ways. So he’s able to walk a very, very thin line where he can still, I think, be aspirational and inspiring to some folk. But I think we should still challenge him, both on the ethos of capital accumulation in this particular moment and moving away from charity — he talks a lot about charity, but I don’t hear him talking so much about justice.

“Jay Z speaks about … the ways in which his neighbors in his own building were very, very reluctant when he moved in. And he raps about a little bit, talking about blue bloods looking down on him and trying to clown him and things like that. He experiences racism; it’s quite a bit different than the kind of structural racism that young black men from his community experience on a day-to-day basis.

“Jay Z is still going to experience certain forms of elite racism and elitism in the kind of communities he’s in.”
– James Braxton Peterson

“We need to understand, number one, capital accumulation might be popular to rhyme about but we can’t ignore the inequality and the experiences of those folk who are still suffering from social injustices in the community out of which Jay Z emerged. I think we have to really challenge him to stay rooted in that set of experiences.

“Jay Z is very much invested in this concept of anonymous charity. He’s given a lot to different causes and he does so a lot of times anonymously. I think what I’d love to see him talk about is the difference between charity and justice. Because you can be extremely wealthy and you can give to certain causes and that might make you feel good and that might help a lot of different situations, but there’s also the issues around social justice — sentencing disparities around crack cocaine, which you [Jay Z] used to hustle. How do we get that to be realized in the criminal justice system right now? How do we work to get jobs in the community out of which you emerged?

“I think that consummate transcendence just doesn’t work in any way because Jay Z is still going to experience certain forms of elite racism and elitism in the kind of communities he’s in. And we, as his listeners and constituents, have to continue to push him and challenge him. And it’s not about necessarily changing his music or making his music all about social justice — though that would be great for me — I think it’s more about helping our artists to understand they can play a very, very important role in the range of social justice efforts going on.”

Rice took a different take on Jay Z’s approach to social justice:

“Jay Z’s message is the best revenge, or the best kind of social justice, is redressing economic injustice. You can argue whether that’s really the right way to go about it. [TOM: It's very practical.] That’s what Jay Z would probably tell us — the best revenge is becoming very rich.”

Peterson on the reach of Jay Z’s impact (yes, including Miley Cyrus twerking):

“We have to be careful about who’s listening to Jay Z and when they’re listening to him. I don’t think that most of his fans are teens, by the way. I’m sure that he has a lot of teenage fans, but Jay Z’s audience is getting older, and those of us who have been following him for a long time, for instance, understand that Miley Cyrus shout out in a very different way.

[Advisory: The following song, "Somewhereinamerica" from Jay Z's new album "Magna Carta Holy Grail," contains explicit language. The final lyrics reference Miley Cyrus.]

“What he’s saying is that Miley Cyrus is a stand in for every young, white girl across this nation who might be dancing or twerking to a Jay Z song; it’s him bragging about his impact and his capacity to earn in this particular industry.”
– James Braxton Peterson

“There’s a whole context and story and back and forth between him and Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus talked about partying to a Jay Z song in one of her songs, and then she sort of leaked out the fact that she never really listened to Jay Z. And he kind of chastised her a little bit for that. What he’s saying is that Miley Cyrus is a stand in for every young, white girl across this nation who might be dancing or twerking to a Jay Z song; it’s him bragging about his impact and his capacity to earn in this particular industry within the context of this exchange he’s had with Miley Context over the last couple of years.”

One of our callers said he was uncomfortable with Jay Z’s use of the N-word. Peterson reflected on the historical meaning of the word and its continued use:

“I think this is a particular word. I’m not interested in censoring any artist, by the way, but I do want artists to understand the historical significance and import of this word. Certainly within certain private speech communities, black speech communities or racist communities, the term is used often and in different ways that exist outside of its traditional definitions. All of that is OK. But once you put it on a record … it engenders all of its historical weight. And that’s what makes it so complex.

“Instead of trying to censor it or instead of trying to bury the word, I’m much more interested in raising critical awareness around it and how it gets used. And I think it would be great if artists could spend a little bit more time thinking more critically about how and when it gets used … The word doesn’t play the same for each generation. There are younger people who might be listening to Jay Z’s album and they interpret it a little bit differently than older folk do. I think for younger people, sometimes, they disassociate or divorce the term from its historical legacy. And what I would challenge them to do is not to do that. I’m not saying you can’t have linguistic felicity, that it can’t mean different things in different contexts, but that only works in private speech communities. Once you put it in public, you put it on a record, you cannot divorce it from its historical context, and that’s where it gets complicated.”

[Advisory: The following song, "Open Letter," contains explicit language.]

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Magazine: ‘Oh, I’m So Good at Math’: Lessons From The Jay-Z Business Model: “When he started out, his lyrics reflected a life not far removed from drug dealing. A few years ago, he and his wife, Beyoncé Knowles, were photographed in the White House Situation Room, with Jay-Z occupying the chair of President Obama, a fan. To a degree that rivals any entertainer, Jay-Z has managed to reconcile the dualities of black and white cultures, Bed-Stuy and Tribeca, art and commerce. There’s a reason why he likes to call himself, among many other things, J-Hova. But behind the bombast and heroic couplets, there is a man named Shawn Carter. His success is not just a metaphor: It is the product of a canny commercial intelligence.”

USA Today: Jay-Z’s No. 1 ‘Magna Carta’ Extends Rap’s Hot Streak: “Magna’s tally, the year’s second-highest sales week behind Justin Timberlake’s 968,000 for The 20/20 Experience, was higher than predicted and especially impressive considering the freebies. ‘The advertising and promotion broadened the scope of who the consumer is,’ Bakula says. ‘You have people who weren’t rabid Jay-Z fans being exposed and getting wrapped up in the story and content. In one widely watched NBA game (with a commercial that announced the album and giveaway), you’re reaching a massive audience.’”

Spin: Don’t Believe The Hyphen: Jay-Z Would Like To Be Called Jay Z Now: “The rapper formerly known as Jay-Z has been known to stylize his name as Jay-Z for some time. Now word has trickled down through the powers-that-be that Jay-Z is what we’re all supposed to be calling him for the foreseeable future. Billboard editor Joe Levy reported the name change last night on Twitter, citing label sources. And Billboard has now adopted that punctuation (or lack thereof) in its articles.”


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  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    why is it a big problem when Common visits the White house but no one is upset when Jay Z does?

    • OnPointComments

      I am surprised that President & Mrs. Obama invite people like Jay-Z and Beyonce to the White House.  Have you heard or read some of the lyrics of their “music?”  I had a discussion with a liberal friend a while ago, and we looked up some of their lyrics after President Obama was pictured with Jay-Z and Beyonce.  “I keep it fresher than the next b****.”  “Keep you a** tighter than Versace.”  “I got more black chicks between my sheets than Essence.”  “No one can f*** you betta.” “F*** if you leg broke b****, hop on your good foot.”  “You’re a B****, No ma, you’re a B****.”  “When he see me in the dress I’ma get me some, Hope you still like me, F- you pay me.”  Sure, this country has freedom of speech, but should the preceding really be celebrated by the President and First Lady?  Would you let your child (any child, from age 0-22 living in your house), listen to this?  I wouldn’t.  What are the parents thinking?  What are the President and First Lady thinking?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        I thought it was odd because Common is more of a positive rapper and Jay Z has made a billion dollars portraying a negative gangster image. plus Jay Z uses the N word way more than Common

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Nice to see you’re over your case of the right’s calling Common a good, moral, successful man, up until the nanosecond that the President invited Common to the White House.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        your comment does not make sense

  • Shag_Wevera

    A great example of too much wealth being concentrated in undeserving hands.

    • OnPointComments

      The equivalent of musical pornography.

      • J__o__h__n

        Pornography has better music. 

  • Jim

    his story is very intriguing.. from drug dealer to fame entrepreneur.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003176132796 Joe Makela

    nevermind his “roots”, he can crossover and be accepted by the ruling class BECAUSE  of his success/$$. he is the poster child for neo liberalism, crass in your face product.
    he played y’all.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    “You’re in the presence of a king” — Jay-Z

    “Nobody told me there would be boasting (in music)!” — Milhous van Houten

    Really, I got nothing about Jay-Z in particular, as I’m a bit older, whiter and suburbaner than his target demographic.

    I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, recovering (or not, depending on the timeframe) addict, sing to a bunch of max-security prisoners about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, so it’s interesting to hear the idea that a music mogul today works from very little, up to stardom, and doesn’t pretend he has some squeaky-clean past.

    • J__o__h__n

      “I sold a phone in Reno, just to make him buy.”

  • Queen Cupcake

    DRUG DEALER CHIC??? Blechh.

  • J__o__h__n

    Nouveau riche bragging and marketing make boring art. 

  • brian copeland

    On the Samsung commercial, it is VERY interesting that he once rapped in a 2010 single, “They tap, them feds don’t play fair/They pay rats to say that they’re part of your operation.”

    Quoted from Apple Insider (http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/07/05/samsungs-free-jay-z-album-delivered-via-android-spyware-app)
    The Samsung app you downloaded demands access to a broad range of rights on the user’s phone before allowing installation, even though all it really does is play back the album. It does not add the songs to a user’s music library.

    This includes tracking user’s “precise GPS location.” The app permissions page is so unnecessarily invasive that fellow rapper Killer Mike tweeted in response, “I read this and… ‘Naw I’m cool.’”

  • nj_v2

    Dang, i was born too soon. Coulda gone to school and majored in Jay-Z. 

    Coulda learned how to write masterful lyrics such as, ” “yo, yo, yo, dat’s right, yeh, yeh, uh, huh, yeah,” and, “”I got this bad a** b*tch just bouncin’ on my d*ck, bouncin’ on my d*ck, bouncin’ on my d*ck…”

    I think it was Gore Vidal who said, “Commercialism is doing well what ought not to be done at all.”

    So many masterful artists and musicians available to profile and feature, and we get this. To call it disappointing is being charitable.

    (As – Stevie Wonder)

    • HonestDebate1

      If someone twisted my arm hard enough to make me name my favorite Stevie song, “As” would be it. I saw him a few years ago and it was his encore.

  • adks12020

    To each his/her own but I’ve never been impressed by Jay-Z’s music. He’s much better at marketing and promotion than making music…actually he’s an expert marketer/promoter. That said, there are tons of other hip hop artists/groups I would rather listen to.

  • Griz_Adams

    The view of the music industry is very different for rap artist. Many indie musicians are stand-offish about selling out and linking their songs to products and a corporate image, but rap artist achieve a major milestone in their career when sponsor start calling.  Rap is just not about the music, but is also one of the few legitimate pathways that can provide substantial wealth to poor black Americans. It’s an opportunity to obtain the American dream that’s within their grasp.

    • Reuben

      just like becoming a pro athlete right? I think thats a proven misnomer and poor advice to “poor black Americans”


    Jay-Z is fake! His story is that of Jazz-O who he got his whole rhyme style from.
    How many times can he tell you he is so rich?He has no soul
    Listen to Nas!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    How much of this mogul-bragging on wax (sic) is a nearly-natural reaction to becoming rich by your work in the music industry rather than enriching a bunch of agents or record companies?

  • ToyYoda

    I mostly listen to classical piano music.  I only recognize the name Jay Z. I am so out of touch with the rest of the music world!

    • nj_v2

      [[ I am so out of touch with the rest of the music world! ]]

      In this case, that’s really not such a bad thing.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Niche-casting exists now for a reason: More available bandwith, more splintering of music formats.

        Imagine a Jay Z song, followed by Michael Buble, and AC/DC. I don’t know if I want to hear that kind of mix. Sure, some kid on college radio might do that (I was one of them once), but for commerical stations?

        That’s what “Top 40″ formatting would do now, if it existed like it did in the 1970s.


    Well, the profile is about his business career…I just wonder how much of it is his “ability” as much as timing of being the biggest hip hop artist when it exploded commercially.
    Nevertheless you are trivializing his lyrics…

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      I am sure he, like puffy, simply read russel simmons book. he also has pretty decent lyrics. having both is one reason he is so big but I think you are right that timing had a lot to do with it.

  • J__o__h__n

    He gives anonymously yet brags about everything else?

  • lwcwsw1234g

    I am the mother of a mixed race young man who is 21.  I have watched him struggle through the awakening to “rap” with his place in the world.  Until a few months ago, it looked like we had lost him to the “gangsta” image lifestyle.  The words Jay-Z uses are powerful.  Not all people who listen are capable to digesting Jay Z’s material as some of the intellectual dialog on today’s show.  He is a role model, a powerful role model.  I wish he was a better one despite his capitalism success! I admire the role models who do not have to degrade others in order to success.  The linguistic piece of his work is not to be taken lightly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003176132796 Joe Makela

    is that Rueben Jackson calling? big cheers from Montreal, Rueben.
    btw folks he hosts a great jazz show on VPR.

  • Reuben

    pass on the music. Pass on the life style. Pass on his friends, and pass on him.

  • RosieRR

    I love Jay-Z and loved the show today! Really looking forward to the Legends of Summer Tour @ Fenway- Thanks Tom :)

  • Maggie3177

    I am a huge fan of OnPoint but I was really disappointed with this topic.  Recently I thought the program regarding Treyvon Martin was exceptional and a really good conversation about what the trial represents in terms of pervasive white privilege in our society.  So, I was surprised that after such an intelligent conversation about race and inequality, OnPoint would choose to further glorify the “mogul” Jay Z as they continuously referred to him.  My point is that there are SO MANY under-represented artists out there who are not selling out by producing songs with lyrics that perpetuate stereotypes, particularly stereotypes of young black men.  How about a show focused on the ones who don’t get airtime but who have a real message, for example Macklemore, Talib Kwel, Janelle Monae??  Jay Z is very talented lyricist and artist, but he chose to cater to the requests of a system that is inherently racist.  Those who don’t, don’t get rich and don’t get known…programs like OnPoint could be the first step in changing that, so I am disappointed that an opportunity was missed here.

    • StilllHere

      A system that is inherently racist … that sounds like an excuse for someone’s failure, just say’n.

  • StilllHere

    More stories of social mobility … so confusing.  I though OP had loaded its guest lists with those preaching its death.

    • J__o__h__n

      The creation of a few more super rich does nothing to stop the destruction of the middle class and income inequality. 

      • StilllHere

        Gotcha, you can go from 0 to infinity but nowhere in-between, makes a lot of sense.

        • J__o__h__n

          No, because a few outlier individuals go from 0 to infinity, doesn’t mean that most can improve moderately.

          • StilllHere

            Yes, it must be impossible; there’s one elevator and it’s express and only one can ride.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          You’re really outdone here.

          And look up the word “median” while you’re at it.

          • StilllHere

            Please, you wouldn’t know a stat if it called you for alimony.

  • erdevereux

    I’d like to hear people connect the dots between yesterday’s On Point program (The ‘Difficult Men’ Who Make Great TV) and today’s ‘The Fame and Fortune of Jay-Z.’ 
       It is curious that our music culture has been creating male African-American anti-heros while our TV culture is doing the same with white males. Music’s Eminem was an anomaly, a white man who couldn’t have seemed more black to whites, and there’s probably been a black anti-hero on cable somewhere (I’m not music or film buff). But I never saw or even heard about some that seems ripe for the picking: either the original 1981 verite movie Downtown 81 (featuring the black anti-hero Jean-Michel Basquiat), or Julian Schnabel’s 1996 version of the film with David Bowie as Andy Warhol (who collaborated with Gasquiat). A documentary about Gasquiat which did make to TV according to Wikipedia, was ‘Jean-Michel Gasquiat: The Radiant Child’, which PBS broadcast in 2011 on their series Independent Lens (the film had first screened as part of the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. Jay-Z’s lyrics on Magna Carta (‘Picasso Baby’) reference Gasquiat more than once, and he seems to be asking us to see his life as a surviving extension of Gasquiat anti-heroism. 
      His lyrics and persona, while dangerously lacking humility as one caller pointed out, are so dripping with irony and multicultural references that seem to beg listeners to see him in the widest possible cultural context. That said, I don’t believe Jay-Z is through evolving any more than Don Draper or other white fictional anti-heros of TV.
      The question I would like to hear more discussion about on your program is what Jay-Z’s success says about where our culture and our country are heading. With income equality growing and more whites and blacks and others accumulating wealth as the best revenge, will the Jay-Z’s of the world become more like the Warren Buffets and relatively selfless billionaires (Bill Gates), or will they emulate the Koch brothers and those who seek to insulate wealth from social responsibility?
      And, will Jay-Z prosper even more by living on this dangerous, attention-seeking edge and live long enough to evolve to the status of a super-hero, or will they fall victim as Gasquiat did to some inner turmoil that money can’t tame? Certainly, Jay-Z’s broken-home in Brooklyn resembles Gasquiat’s on the surface. Did it leave the same scars, or did he learn from Gasquiat’s tragic death in 1988. If so, will he help others do the same?
      Rick Devereux

  • 2Gary2

    trash radio at its finest

  • hypocracy1

    wait a minute… People still buy albums?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      that’s why jay z pioneered a new distribution app to actually sell his most recent. in an age where few still do he does

      • hypocracy1

        Congrats to him.. he needed to find a new way because that album sucks.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          I haven’t heard it yet. its pretty hard to keep it real when you are a billionaire married to a beautiful popstar

  • Tom

    Reminds me of the fairy tale “The Emperors New Clothes” the Emperor was naked and Jay-Z has zero musical talent. The fact that Jay-Z is wealthy beyond belief is what I call the Mc Donald’s dynamic. Calling Jay-Z a major musical talent is the same as calling a Big Mac a major breakthrough in healthy wholesome nutrition. Everybody knows them many people buy them they make fortunes but they are both a sick joke. I wouldn’t feed Mc Donald’s food to my dog and I would nevrer let my child listen to the “music” that makes Jay-Z an elite menber of the one percent.

    • hypocracy1

       Good luck with that one, Tom..  Most people spend their entire childhood listening to “music” that their parents wold never allow them to…

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      hip hop music is not great for kids I agree. its fine to not know what you are talking about. you can tell Jay Z has talent because the songs he writes for other artists are also #1 hits

      • Tom

         If you love junk food there are plenty of places to go to if you love junk music there are plenty of #1 hits.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          i like all sorts of things. i don’t like to limit myself

  • gqlewis

    Jay-Z has turned his street skills into business skills, and I applaud him for that. He is a self made icon. He has earned his Ph.D. in marketing and rapology. While I may not agree with many of his rap lyrics, I can certainly appreciate his business acumen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    “i’m about a dollar, what the F is fifty cent?”

    • StilllHere

      i thought it was fitty cent

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    nahh apparently the nsa is not listening to us and the police are not launching domestic drones

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    yes I am sure there are some blind vegan lesbian Asian communist folk artists somewhere that have yet to be profiled on ‘BUR

  • Brailleyard

    Hello, Young black male here –
    In regarding Jay-Z it may be worth considering the way that we hold overwhelmingly successful individuals from other backgrounds (and time periods)in such high esteem. There are few arenas in our modern age left unconquered; Oil, Rail, Steel, News, and Cars, will forever be associated with Rockefeller, Carnegie, Hearst and Ford. Those that remain are fast being gobbled up by apple/google/samsung…or Zuckerberg.

    Jay-Z is a master of branding…sure, but no more so than those incredibly successful men whose surname is now emblazoned on everything their vertically-integrated businesses touch. I imagine he only wants individuals 40 years from now to speak of the ” carter method” or ” the Jay-Z bump” the way they speak of Oprah or Martha Stewart. America is still a land of Tycoons, they’re just browner and female…er
    (Wasn’t it Warren Buffet who credited much of his succes to ” only competing with [the male] half of the population)? “)

    We shouldn’t be surprised that he keeps his social activities secret, he spends a couple lines on this album discussing his steadily libertarian leanings – And we all know how everybody loves a Black Republican.

    This man is nothing more than a true American – driven to earn/capture/conquer until he draws his last breath – While we could hope for him to make a social statement here & there, expecting any more of him than we would of an oil tycoon is madness.

  • 228929292AABBB

    I think this is a worthwhile topic, but from the point of view of the plight of young, and particularly young black, America.  If some drug dealer can become a billionaire by scratching a record and talking in the most half-assed of approximate rhymes about slang terms for guns and the worthlessness of women that’s notable, certainly.  But the lesson to take is not that the entertainer is a genius, anymore than someone should look at a whole lot of white rednecks watching NASCAR and think ‘whoever thought of going around in a circle is a true entertainment mogul’.   The Jay Z story is the story of the dull, easily amused drones who consume a product consisting basically of a man in droopy pants standing on a sidewalk talking about almost nothing.

  • OnPointComments

    It’s clear that humility is not Jay-Z’s forte.  “This is going to sound arrogant”?  It’s the definition of arrogance.

    “Jay-Z Declares ‘My Presence is Charity’”

    Jay-Z has responded to criticism from legendary actor and
    activist Harry Belafonte that the rapper has failed to use his celebrity in a social responsibly way.

    Jay-Z said,“I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is.”

  • Sy2502

    Jay Z is a role model? Seriously? Someone who’s made his money singing about n-word, pimping, b*tches, etc? Give me a break, I can think of countless people better than him that I would suggest as role models who are neither rich nor famous. 

  • TJPhoto40

    I tried to listen with a modicum of objectivity, but this is pretty insufferable. And Tom Ashbrook doesn’t seem concerned about a critique in this. A guy who thinks the best revenge is getting rich and that his very presence is like God’s gift to the masses is a twisted individual with extremely warped values. Being “cool” with some uncritical wannabes is not the same as being at the top of our culture, as one of your guests puts it. It may reflect a culture of decay and conflicted values, and he may be a major representative of that theme. But he’s one egotistical parody of a success story, and it’s sickening that so many find him, or his “music”, laudable.

  • Anthony Amiewalan
Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

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Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

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This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

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