Jay-Z sold his stake in the Brookyln Nets so he could start a sports marketing agency. Tired of just partying with top athletes from the booths of his 40/40 club, Jay wanted to represent these guys, to make money off their friendship in ways that only he could. According to a New York look at his business exploits and a link with Pepsi, we already know he's maximizing his own profit margins.
New York's Andrew Rice did a sprawling examination of Jay-Z's business ventures, from the block to the boardroom, from his time as a young hustler in the Marcy projects to running Roc Nation Sports, the sports agency he launched in April with CAA and "Worldwide" Wesley Morris (LeBron's former handler) by stealing Robinson Cano from superagent Scott Boras. He's spent the last few months developing Roc Nation Sports into one of the hottest players in sports, signing New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, and the crown jewel: NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
Jay's company will be in charge of marketing these mega-athletes from now on, but they won't be reaping major profits from mega-contracts. Money comes from marketing deals, as Jay demonstrated with his recent Samsung deal. "Fees for playing contracts are set fairly modestly: usually between 3 and 5 percent. The cut from marketing deals is considerably higher, and that will be where Carter concentrates his efforts," Rice explains. And if that's true, if the marketing deals are where Jay is making his cash in this arrangement, then he's already seeing green from his first client. The New York Post reported Cano signed a multi-million dollar deal with Pepsi that'll debut during the All-Star game on Tuesday. He's already making money for himself while putting his clients front and center.
And sports agents are already sweating Jay infringing on their territory, in the form of anonymous catty comments to Rice. "Guys are just going to Jay-Z because they fetishize him," one agent told Rice. "It’s getting crazy." Jealousy is a bad look, but that's not stopping these guys from expressing their frustration with the biggest star in hip-hop steal their clients. "Is anyone asking why Jay-Z wants to be a sports agent?" one agent asked. "Does he need to create new income or was he just tired of owning his 0.000002 percent of the Nets?"
But behind the scenes, we also just learned that Jay's relationship with his closest creative partner has been tense recently. Jay told BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe about a fight between him and Kanye over two songs that would eventually appear on Magna Carta... Holy Grail. "We had this whole plan when me and Kanye did [the] Watch The Throne album that we would go right into our solos after that. Soon as I thought we had wrapped up Watch the Throne, I made two records—I had 'Holy Grail' and 'Oceans' ... and I played those records for Kanye. And he was like, 'No, those have to go on Watch the Throne,'" Jay told the radio host. Things got a bit heated between entourages, and the two MCs spent the next four days arguing over which album the songs would appear on, but the dispute was settled. "Not like fighting," Jay explains. "Well, there was some pushing at one point but not between us, just everyone else got a little excited." Both songs appeared on Magna Carta, for better or worse.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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