OK, so perhaps it’s not “just” Cognac. But the superstars’ love of the Brown has certainly played a very real part in his rise to the first ever rap billionaire.
So what’s the guy most famous for? The Beyoncé and Jay-Z product? D’Usse Cognac? Armand de Brignac Champagne? Actually, the most interesting part of his journey to billionaire status isn’t what he’s most known for, but that the majority of this entertainer’s fortune has been made NOT entertaining.
Demystifying the Jay-Z empire
Make no mistake, because it really is an empire. Jay-Z’s net worth is now conservatively valued at over $1 billion dollars. Not bad for a boy who hailed from the infamous Marcy housing projects, Brooklyn, NYC.
However, his uber-success has all stemmed from the belief that rather than simply taking his cut promoting brands for others, the pathway to the uber-rich list was to create his own.
And oh-boy, has this worked!
He launched his own record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, through which he released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. His clothing label, Rocawear, became reality in 1999 (and sold for $204 million in 2007). He launched the music-streaming service, Tidal, started the entertainment company, Roc Nation, more than 10 years ago, and used the power of film for launching his “Ace of Spades” Champagne brand, Armand de Brignac, through his 2006 video for the song, “Show Me What you Got”.
And then…. There’s D’Usse Cognac.
First to hit the shelves was the D’Usse VSOP. Cleverly, partnering with drinks giant Bacardi, even the look of the bottle comes with all you expect from hip hop style bling. The simple bottle is adorned only by a gold cross, which is actually the Cross of Lorraine, a French symbol that represents courage, honor, and perseverance.
Hot on its heels came the D’Usse XO. The stunning jet black bottle complete with a silver version of the Lorraine Cross made for a Cognac well-received not only by the hip hop community, but by industry experts. This was further determined by its 95/100 points at the Ultimate Beverage Challenge, and the 90/100 points awarded by Wine Enthusiast.
The Jay-Z Cognac might not be the biggest value of all his brands (that honor goes to the champagne, at $310 million), but it stands him in at a cool $100 million at present. And we say, “at present”, because the brand has grown an incredible 80% annually since its inception, shipping over 200,000 cases a year, so who knows quite how high the potential is for growth.
Jay Z investments in numbers
When you take a look at the variety of Jay-Z’s investments it becomes very clear why Warren Buffett said of him, “Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he’s the guy to learn from”. Praise indeed for a man whose career ladder started dealing drugs on the streets.
According to Forbes, the following are the net worth of each of Jay-Z’s portfolio of companies and investments in order of value.
- Armand de Brignac Champagne — $310 million
- Cash & investments — $220 million, including a stake in Uber that’s estimated at around $70 million
- D’Usse Cognac — $100 million
- Tidal — The music streaming service is worth an impressive $100 million
- Roc Nations — The entertainment company clocks up $75 million
- Music catalog — $75 million
- His art collection — $70 million
- Real estate – $50 million
The lyrics say it all
It might be easy to look at where he is now, with the cash, the lifestyle, the superstar marriage, and think that a lot of what he’s achieved is down to luck. However, this is a guy who came from a tough childhood, a rough neighborhood, and a reality that certainly didn’t set him up for success.
But the one thing he’s always had in bucket loads is a belief in his own worth. And this has been evident in his song lyrics, and can be tracked back over the past couple of decades.
In U Don’t Know in 2001, he rapped:
“And if somebody woulda told ’em that Hov would sell clothing
Not in this lifetime, wasn’t in my right mind
That’s another difference that’s between me and them
I smarten up, open the market up
One million, two million, three million, four
In 18 months, 80 million more…
Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth”
2003, and in Threat he stated:
“You looking at the black Warren Buffett
So all you critics can duck sick”
And in Roc Boys in 2007 he told us:
“Take what the Forbes figured, then figure more
Cause they forgot to account what I did with the raw”
Then in 2018, only months before hitting that hallowed $1 billion, the song What’s Free told the world the truth of his rise to riches:
“In the land of the free, where the blacks enslaved
Three-fifths of a man, I believe’s the phrase
I’m 50 percent of D’USSÉ and it’s debt free
100 percent of Ace of Spades, worth half a B
Roc Nation, half of that, that’s my piece
Hunnid percent of TIDAL to bust it up with my Gs…
I ain’t got a billion streams, got a billion dollars”
Seems that the man born Sean Carter really does live up to his OTT lyrics. And none so true as one from Diamonds From Sierra Leone in 2005:
I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!”
You gotta give it to him, he really is the epitome of the much over-used phrase, “livin’ the dream”.
But more importantly than that, and whatever you think of his music, his penchant for cussing, and perhaps his glorification of the gangsta lifestyle, when it comes to role models for anyone from an under-privileged background, Jay-Z is a shining beacon of light and hope.
The boy done good. And we can all tip a glass of D’Usse Cognac to toast that.
Sources: forbes.com, inc.com