words of wisdom
Jay Z, the reigning king of America, explains his life philosophy
You’ve said that you initially struggled to make an impact in music because you failed to fully commit – how did that change?
We didn’t have doctors or lawyers in our neighbourhood to aspire to. If I wanted to make it, I knew hip hop was the answer. It was that simple.
How difficult was it in the early days of Roc-A-Fella?
I’m not advocating the street, but on the street your word is your word, it means something. I soon found out in the cooperate world that isn’t always true.
What were the biggest obstacles to success and how did you overcome them?
I had to be a CEO from the beginning. If I wanted a record deal it was the only way. I didn’t concentrate on the negatives. I worked damn hard and I strived for excellence. That’s what I continue to do – and here I still am.
Your business portfolio is diverse. What area gives you the most satisfaction?
My businesses are an extension of me – and that’s a big thing, rather than just investing in something cold that you have no emotional attachment with. My music is an extension of me, so is my clothes-line, so is any sports team I invest in. I have that bond with them all.
How similar are the principles of business in your early days on the streets compared to the multimillion dollar business enterprises you now run?
Principles in business should remain the same regardless of turnover. The street taught me to account for every dime, to look at what you are spending against what you are making. Now I don’t just sit back – I am involved at boardroom level.
You sold part of your stake in Tidal earlier this year. How do you see its future?
People were sceptical if Tidal would work – they aren’t sceptical anymore. Creatively I expect it to continue going from strength to strength.
How has fatherhood changed you as a person?
You aren’t the priority anymore. There is no rehearsal – you just got to get it right.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from it
That you need to constantly be learning. It doesn’t matter what you have achieved in business or in your personal life – fatherhood is a constant learning process.
How do you maintain the authenticity in your music?
My lyrics have always been about my life and what I want to express – as you get older things change, you have different things to say.
You’re cited as being able to lead people in whatever field you go into – what would happen if you got into politics?
In business I have always believed that you are the product – if people believe in you then they will believe in what you create. That’s one of the big reasons Obama was such a successful president. People believed in him, and in whatever I do I want people to believe in me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given – and why?
My uncle told me I would never sell a million records – and I have gone on to sell a million records a million times. It might not sound like great advice, but the minute you stop allowing other people’s negative words to affect you, you are on the road to making it.
Rick Rubin once said that it’s your “expanding interest in the world” that makes you constantly relevant. What’s next?
Like I said it’s about something I am passionate about – about something that is an extension of me. At this stage it isn’t all about making money – it’s about investing in something that excites me.