“What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album

Just months after being released from prison for violating probation, rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams, best known as Meek Mill, released a much-anticipated album last week. The album, titled Championships, features hardcore beats, a rotation of hip hop superstars, including Cardi B and Drake, and a powerful message about Meek’s road to redemption.

On the standout track “What’s Free?” Meek teamed up with hip hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who rap about their definition of freedom over the beat from Biggie Smalls’ 1997 classic “What’s Beef?” Jay-Z, however, outshines his cohorts with an exceptional verse, using his lyrical prowess to drop knowledge about the struggle for black liberation and allegedly take shots at the MAGA-loving Kanye West. In addition, the Brooklyn-born rapper boasts about his lucrative business investments and the massive accumulation of wealth he’s built over the years.

Here are eight lessons Jay-Z shared about business, ownership, and financial freedom on “What’s Free?”

Meek Mill

Spotify Fans first event for Meek Mill’s new album, Championships, in New York on December 1, 2018 (Photo Credit: Francis Montoya / SlingShotMenace, LLC)

“I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free”

In this lyric, Jay-Z raps about his profitable stake in D’usse. The hip hop icon tapped into his personal savings to purchase equity in the cognac brand back in 2011. Because he did not have a need for financing, he was left with no debt and has reaped tremendous profits. In addition to being a partial owner, the mega-mogul also serves as head of global strategy for the brand.

 

“100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B”

Jay-Z brags about his ownership of Armand de Brignac, a champagne popularly known as Ace of Spades. He expressed his affinity for the brand by featuring it in his rhymes and videos long before he bought the champagne from Sovereign Brands for an undisclosed amount in 2014. His brilliant marketing has, in turn, made Ace of Spades one of the most popular Champagne brands on the market and a staple at high-end clubs, bars, and establishments. Today, the luxury champagne can cost up to $ 1,000 per bottle, while the value of the company has skyrocketed.

 

“Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece”

Here, Jay-Z shouts out another part of his business empire, Roc Nation, a multi-platform entertainment company he founded in 2008. The company specializes in artist management, music publishing, concert touring and production, and film and TV production. It also serves as a talent and sports agency that represents A-list clients like Shakira, Rihanna, NBA star Kevin Durant, and NFL player Victor Cruz.

 

“100% of Tidal to bust it up with my Gs”

The successful rapper and entrepreneur goes on to highlight his music platform Tidal, a subscription-based streaming service he purchased in 2015, along with a variety of other high-profile music artists. Last year, he sold 33% of the company to Sprint for $ 200 million, raising the valuation of the company to $ 600 million.

 

“We made the project a wave; You came back, reinvested and gentrified it”

This line is a reference to the gentrification of low-income communities, an epidemic that disproportionately hurts people of color. The invasion of real estate investors, who are often wealthy and white, in these areas drives up rents and the cost of living, which leads to the displacement of working-class residents as well as the erasure of the neighborhood’s character. That’s why Jay is stressing the importance of ownership — without it, people of color can be stripped of their land, culture, and identity.

 

“I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars”

A large part of Hov’s discography has been removed from Tidal’s music-streaming competitors, like Spotify and Apple Music. The move cost the rap mogul tons of streams. Nevertheless, its smart business moves like this that have made him the highest-earning rapper of 2018. The decision also speaks to his acumen as a businessman who is willing to make a personal career sacrifice for the ultimate benefit of his business.

 

“Them people stole the soul and hit ni—s with 360s”

Jay-Z addresses how hip hop, which began as a medium of expression for African Americans, has been co-opted by big businesses and major record labels who earn major profits from artists who sign 360 deals. These notorious contracts give labels a stake in the revenue an artist generates from touring, performing, selling merchandise, endorsements, and appearing in movies and television.  According to Jay, the deal is equivalent to someone selling their soul.

He, on the other hand, has bought the masters rights to his music. This ownership gives him leverage to use the masters to bargain the terms of a contract with a company or platform that wants access to his catalog.

 

“My accountant’s so good, I’m practically livin’ tax-free”

Like many wealthy elites, Jay-Z uses loopholes and provisions in U.S. tax law for his own financial advantage. The mogul raps about how his tax advisors prevent him from unnecessary taxation and allow him to submit the minimum amount on his tax returns. For example, in 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West donated the Maybach used in their “Otis” music video to auction and used the proceeds to benefit the drought crisis in East Africa. As a result, the donation was tax-deductible.

The post “What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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“What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album

Just months after being released from prison for violating probation, rapper Robert Rihmeek Williams, best known as Meek Mill, released a much-anticipated album last week. The album, titled Championships, features hardcore beats, a rotation of hip hop superstars, including Cardi B and Drake, and a powerful message about Meek’s road to redemption.

On the standout track “What’s Free?” Meek teamed up with hip hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who rap about their definition of freedom over the beat from Biggie Smalls’ 1997 classic “What’s Beef?” Jay-Z, however, outshines his cohorts with an exceptional verse, using his lyrical prowess to drop knowledge about the struggle for black liberation and allegedly take shots at the MAGA-loving Kanye West. In addition, the Brooklyn-born rapper boasts about his lucrative business investments and the massive accumulation of wealth he’s built over the years.

Here are eight lessons Jay-Z shared about business, ownership, and financial freedom on “What’s Free?”

Meek Mill

Spotify Fans first event for Meek Mill’s new album, Championships, in New York on December 1, 2018 (Photo Credit: Francis Montoya / SlingShotMenace, LLC)

“I’m 50% of D’usse and it’s debt free”

In this lyric, Jay-Z raps about his profitable stake in D’usse. The hip hop icon tapped into his personal savings to purchase equity in the cognac brand back in 2011. Because he did not have a need for financing, he was left with no debt and has reaped tremendous profits. In addition to being a partial owner, the mega-mogul also serves as head of global strategy for the brand.

 

“100% of Ace of Spades, worth half a B”

Jay-Z brags about his ownership of Armand de Brignac, a champagne popularly known as Ace of Spades. He expressed his affinity for the brand by featuring it in his rhymes and videos long before he bought the champagne from Sovereign Brands for an undisclosed amount in 2014. His brilliant marketing has, in turn, made Ace of Spades one of the most popular Champagne brands on the market and a staple at high-end clubs, bars, and establishments. Today, the luxury champagne can cost up to $ 1,000 per bottle, while the value of the company has skyrocketed.

 

“Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece”

Here, Jay-Z shouts out another part of his business empire, Roc Nation, a multi-platform entertainment company he founded in 2008. The company specializes in artist management, music publishing, concert touring and production, and film and TV production. It also serves as a talent and sports agency that represents A-list clients like Shakira, Rihanna, NBA star Kevin Durant, and NFL player Victor Cruz.

 

“100% of Tidal to bust it up with my Gs”

The successful rapper and entrepreneur goes on to highlight his music platform Tidal, a subscription-based streaming service he purchased in 2015, along with a variety of other high-profile music artists. Last year, he sold 33% of the company to Sprint for $ 200 million, raising the valuation of the company to $ 600 million.

 

“We made the project a wave; You came back, reinvested and gentrified it”

This line is a reference to the gentrification of low-income communities, an epidemic that disproportionately hurts people of color. The invasion of real estate investors, who are often wealthy and white, in these areas drives up rents and the cost of living, which leads to the displacement of working-class residents as well as the erasure of the neighborhood’s character. That’s why Jay is stressing the importance of ownership — without it, people of color can be stripped of their land, culture, and identity.

 

“I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars”

A large part of Hov’s discography has been removed from Tidal’s music-streaming competitors, like Spotify and Apple Music. The move cost the rap mogul tons of streams. Nevertheless, its smart business moves like this that have made him the highest-earning rapper of 2018. The decision also speaks to his acumen as a businessman who is willing to make a personal career sacrifice for the ultimate benefit of his business.

 

“Them people stole the soul and hit ni—s with 360s”

Jay-Z addresses how hip hop, which began as a medium of expression for African Americans, has been co-opted by big businesses and major record labels who earn major profits from artists who sign 360 deals. These notorious contracts give labels a stake in the revenue an artist generates from touring, performing, selling merchandise, endorsements, and appearing in movies and television.  According to Jay, the deal is equivalent to someone selling their soul.

He, on the other hand, has bought the masters rights to his music. This ownership gives him leverage to use the masters to bargain the terms of a contract with a company or platform that wants access to his catalog.

 

“My accountant’s so good, I’m practically livin’ tax-free”

Like many wealthy elites, Jay-Z uses loopholes and provisions in U.S. tax law for his own financial advantage. The mogul raps about how his tax advisors prevent him from unnecessary taxation and allow him to submit the minimum amount on his tax returns. For example, in 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West donated the Maybach used in their “Otis” music video to auction and used the proceeds to benefit the drought crisis in East Africa. As a result, the donation was tax-deductible.

The post “What’s Free?”: Jay-Z Shares Lessons in Business and Ownership on Meek Mill’s New Album appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Skai Jackson Writing A Book About Life Lessons

(Photo Credit PR Photos)  

Actress Skai Jackson will be adding author to her resumé by 2019. The Disney channel is penning a new book called “Reach for the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback.” The book will cover the 16-year-old’s, “lessons on life and rise to stardom, as well as the negative experiences that sometimes comes with living in the spotlight.”

She may be young bu she’s achieved success and is living in the spotlight so some may say she’s more than qualified to write on those topics.

The book is scheduled for release by fall 2019.

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5 ‘Women and Money’ Lessons From Suze Orman at The Apollo

Suze Orman has sustained an enduring career as a speaker, author and pioneer in financial leadership. Orman appeared at the world-famous Apollo theater to discuss the topic ‘Women and Money,’ which is also the title of her relaunched New York Times bestselling book first published in 2007.

The sold out event was a predecessor for the exclusive premier on Oprah Winfrey’s television network, OWN. Orman has partnered with OWN to launch a financial show on the same topic: woman and money.

Orman’s ‘TED Talk’ style discussion touched on topics that included credit budgeting and retirement. While she answered specific questions from the audience, there were five important lessons to take away from her session:

The Five Women and Money Lessons from Suze Orman at the Apollo 

Power Attracts Money

Orman describes the law of attraction when it relates to money and power. Think about your network and social circles; many times we are attracted to people of power, and most times those who hold power are considered to have money. When you are in a position of power, society places you on a pedestal; opening doors to new opportunities which may lead to further financial gains. Orman says “being powerless repels money.”  If we put this in perspective, think about how many times the person who gives off the presence of not having money, loses out on opportunities. “When you are powerless, no one wants to be around you,” she says.

Money Will Teach You About Yourself

There’s that old saying ‘money is the root of all evil.” Some people believe money is everything while others have learned it is not everything. Orman wants everyone to know “money is not more important than life.” While the world revolves around money, some people will put their life on the line for more cash. Think about your purchases; are you buying things of high value that you can’t afford? Are you saving? The financial decisions you make from purchases to savings says a lot about you in regards to money

Debt Makes You Powerless

When you are in debt, you may feel as though you are sinking, Orman says. Having debt doesn’t allow you “financial freedom.” If we take this principle and break it down, the lack of money you have can make you miserable. Think about how many times you were unhappy when your finances weren’t right. Orman says “When you have debt, you don’t have a financial voice”. This applies to those whose debt payments force them to live paycheck to paycheck. While debt may make you powerless, Orman wants you to know “The debt you have, does not define you”.

Who Will Teach Your Children About Money?

Orman asks, if you are not financially literate, how can you as a parent speak and teach money lessons to your children?

Lastly, Orman Advises: “Your Money Will Never Define You, You Define Your Money”

Suze Orman at The Apollo: Women and Money premiers on OWN on Monday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

The post 5 ‘Women and Money’ Lessons From Suze Orman at The Apollo appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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5 Lessons Will Smith Shared at AdWeek About Rebranding and Staying Relevant After 50

Will Smith has sealed a stellar legacy in entertainment. He’s starred in several blockbuster films, a successful TV sitcom, and earned five Grammy Awards along with multiple Oscar and Golden Globes nods. But the Hollywood star isn’t done yet. Following an illustrious 30-year career, Smith is now embracing social media in his next act.

Last week, the acclaimed actor and rapper opened up at New York Advertising Week about his successful career and his new journey as a YouTube star. “I feel like I’m getting a fourth bite of the entertainment apple,” said the 50-year-old superstar during a session with Google VP Adam Stewart.

Here are five lessons Smith shared about personal growth, rebranding after 50, and the next stage of his life and career:

1. Get Into Tech

Technology has been a major disruptor in almost every industry and especially in Hollywood. According to Smith, making a blockbuster movie is no longer as easy as it once was because social media has forced directors and producers to improve the quality of their films, rather than depending on movie trailers to sell movie tickets.

“We used to say ‘We’re not in the movie business, we’re in the trailer business,’” Smith said candidly. “Once you have a good trailer you’re done. Now, what’s happened with technology, on Friday night at 7:30, people are tweeting, ‘Hey, Will’s movie sucks, go see Vin Diesel’s.’”

Because news, whether good or bad, spreads so quickly on social media, movie makers don’t have the luxury of time to build box office success. “We no longer [have] the three-day window,” Smith said. “If you had a great trailer, it was Monday at noon before everybody knew that Wild Wild West sucked. You had already made your money.”

Although some people may still be resistant to the changes tech has created, Smith’s point serves as a reminder that businesses must embrace social media in order to grow their brand in the digital era. Smith, for example, has partnered with YouTube to launch his own channel, which now boasts 3.7 million subscribers. He also has a massive following on Twitter and Instagram, which has allowed the Men in Black star to connect with younger audiences and remain relevant.

2. Face Your Fear


During the session, Smith talked about how he recently conquered one of his biggest fears – death – to mark his 50th birthday. He celebrated the special occasion on Sept. 25 by bungee jumping out of a helicopter and into the Grand Canyon. The heart-pounding experience was live-streamed on YouTube.

“I’ve had an interesting relationship with fear my whole life,” said Smith in the video, titled Will Smith: The Jump. “[When I was younger, my family and I], we drove to the Grand Canyon and I remember having a deeply meaningful experience of how beautiful it was, but I was terrified of walking to the edge. All my family walked up to the edge but I stayed back, too scared to take in the beauty. I’ve made it a point in my life to attack anything that I’m scared of.”

At AdWeek, Smith admitted the 1,000-foot leap into the Grand Canyon was an “absolute complete terror.” However, confronting his fear empowered him to take risks in other areas of his life and drown out an inner voice that repeatedly tells him “‘you’re going to die.’” He’s realized that the voice will be right only one time in his life and he shouldn’t let it stop him from taking chances. “[Until] that one time comes, why should you give a f–k? Just have fun.”

3. Trust Your Gut


Smith advised the audience of ad executives not to become consumed by data and metrics. Instead, he encouraged them to listen to their intuition and defy data when necessary. “Nothing is more valuable than your gut,” he said. “The metrics are there to help you train your gut because, at the end of the day, you have to make the call on the extraordinary. The metrics keep you in the ordinary. The thing that succeeds is going to be way outside what somebody even thought was possible.”

Smith’s advice is applicable to business owners and professionals in all settings. Sometimes your biggest rewards lie outside of your comfort zone. So don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith when the opportunity presents itself.

4. It’s Not About Winning


Don’t let social media data, analytics, and quantitative feedback make you lose sight of your purpose. Rather, Smith encouraged the audience to focus on connecting with people, growth, and being happy. He also admitted that for the first time in his career, his work is not centered on an agenda, which has granted him a greater level of creative freedom and expression and the ability to have fun in the process. “It always has to be for joy and expansion,” he said. “You can’t get caught in trying to win. If you get caught in trying to win, you can completely lose contact with the audience and with the intention.”

5. The Secret to Business Success

Another gem Smith dropped was about using your individual experiences to drive your creativity and overall success. Focus on personal growth, which, in turn, can translate into growth for your company and brand, he said. “As much focus as you can have on expanding yourself and expanding your wisdom and expanding your best qualities, I think is the best way to create better businesses.” Simply put, he added, “be a better you.”

 

The post 5 Lessons Will Smith Shared at AdWeek About Rebranding and Staying Relevant After 50 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Common, Regina Hall, and Russell Hornsby Share Lessons from ‘The Hate U Give’

Based on the book by Angie Thomas, the new film The Hate U Give shares the perspective of a teenaged black girl torn between two worlds. The novel’s film adaption speaks to a wide range of audiences and experiences as it addresses the challenges of 16-year old Starr Carter. Starr’s problems cross boundaries and provide lessons that can be applied to our personal and professional lives as it relates to our diverse and often polarizing political environment.

The film addresses myriad topics such as code-switching, covering, discrimination, diversity, police brutality, gun violence, trauma, voting, and activism. Film director George Tillman and the cast addressed these issues at a recent forum sponsored by the 48th Annual Legislative ConferenceCongresswoman Val Demings of Florida’s 10th District, and the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association (MMCA). Actress Regina Hall, actor Russell Hornsby, and hip-hop artist/actor/activist Common also provided valuable insight around a plethora of timely themes found within the emotionally charged film.

The Hate U Give

Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, and Common (Photo Credit: Patricia McDougall Photography)

Code-Switching in The Hate U Give 

Code-switching is the practice of switching between languages or dialects in conversation to suit the setting. Starr is continually switching between two worlds; the poor, predominantly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, we witness Starr struggling with communication issues we often face in our daily work lives, as we determine the suitable language and vernacular to communicate with colleagues. Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what is right.

‘Covering’ and Other Themes 

Covering is the act of downplaying or hiding certain aspects of yourself so as not to appear different. The Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion report, Uncovering Talent, reveals that 61% of all employees “cover” their identities in some way by downplaying specific attributes, for fear of drawing unwanted attention or making others uncomfortable. Too often, covering does not provide the positive consequences we hope to achieve and is often detrimental to our self-esteem and performance. Taking cues from Starr, we understand covering is unhealthy and does not provide the results we hope for. Eventually, we remove the veil as the pressure to hide becomes unbearable and we show up as our authentic selves.

Starr encounters and manages blatant discrimination and negative treatment based on her race throughout the film. Many workplaces are plagued with discrimination and the lack of opportunities for people of color. In fact, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the agency nationwide in 2017. By recognizing a lack of diversity in the workplace, we can aim to ensure people of color are in decision-making roles with decision-making power. Hornsby said it best when he stated, “the diverse stories we are able to tell from a black perspective are stories that are from opportunities. We show that we can do the work. We show that we are capable. We show that we are talented. We just need to have an opportunity.” Providing opportunities is a step toward combatting discrimination.

There is not one character in The Hate U Give exempt from some level of trauma based on events in the film. In the same way, we are not exempt from the trauma we experience directly or indirectly in daily life. According to studies, 66% of the general population has been traumatized at some point. Eighty percent of workers feel stressed on the job, and approximately 1 million workers are absent each day due to stress. It is essential to be aware that the incidents that occur in The Hate U Give are not limited to the movies but that we are encountering people who have these experiences in our professional lives on a daily basis. Empathy and sensitivity to the experience of others are needed more than ever in our professional and personal lives.

Diversity

When discussing The Hate U Give, Hall eloquently explained how images reflect who we are, how we are perceived, and how we are received in the world: “Those images shape how the world is shaped and affects us when we apply for jobs.” When asked about diversity and his role in the film, Common explained how art gives us more insight into life. “Every time I get a new character, I start to understand human beings more. That’s why I want to play characters that are not like me, and that do not think like I think,” he expressed. Being exposed to people, experiences, and places that are not like us or that are different from our everyday lives is the key to diversity. Common and the cast agreed that when it comes to diversity we have a long way to go, but it is important to acknowledge the growth and recognize there are people on the front lines who are moving forward and being leaders in the area of diversity.

The Hate U Give reminds us that it is not only about diversity of color and gender, but also diversity in thought. As art imitates life, we continue to recognize that people come from all walks of life and that we are not monolithic as a people.  As Hornby expressed, “There is no right or wrong, there is only truth.”  As business owners and professionals, we must join efforts with organizations like the MMCA to ignite and sustain a call to truth and action that results in a significant increase in diverse representation in all areas of industry. At the same time, we must be keenly aware of the effect the lack of diversity and other factors have on our health and our productivity. The Hate U Give is a powerful tool that can be used to continue the dialogue and to challenge misconceptions that prevent progress.

The Hate U Give is in select theaters on Oct. 5 and everywhere on Oct. 19.

 

 

 

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