July Z: A Shawn Carter Summer

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

Do you remember when Jay-Z used to own the summer?

Well, I think he’s still running this town more than ever.

Hot off partnering Tidal with Square, which lead to a huge payout and the sale of 50% of Ace of Spades to LVMH’s spirit and wine division, Moet Hennessy, Hov has begun charting his next course.

Jay-Z and his team are making major moves in Cannabis, launching Monogram’s initial ad campaign with Hype Williams at Frank Sinatra’s house. But behind the scenes, the bigger play is positioning Monogram in a SPAC called the Parent Company that consolidates some big players in the Cannabis business. It’s quickly becoming one of the largest conglomerates in the space and growing rapidly in market share and scale.

Another high growth, new frontier sandbox in which Jay has been playing is the blockchain. He recently invested in NFT shopping platform, Bliski, and dropped his first NFT commemorating the 25th anniversary of Reasonable Doubt. He partnered with Sotheby’s and a dope artist, Derek Adams, for this awesome piece.

The release was controversial because of a lawsuit Jay-Z has filed against the photographer who shot the album cover, Jonathan Mannion. Jay does not want Mannion to profit from his likeness, in print or digitally. This is important because it could set a precedent for artist permissions with respect to the NFT space. It has already caused many photographers to think twice about how they’re moving on the blockchain.

Jay has also been fighting to prevent his former business partner and co-owner of the rights to Reasonable Doubt, Dame Dash, from releasing an NFT of the project without his permission. These are big rulings that will provide clarity going forward.

Hov also invested in Certified Collectables Group (CCG), which is relevant to the NFT landscape, taking preferred shares with a powerful lineup of investors.

But it doesn’t end there. Jay-Z also:

– made a strong VR and Crypto play
– has Megan Thee Stallion, managed by Roc Nation, on the cover of Sport Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue (the first rapper to do so)
– premiered the trailer for his production company’s country western, The Harder They Fall
– found the time to support his childhood idol and record a slot for Big Daddy Kane’s new documentary
– announced a new media venture alongside Modern Luxury called EDITION

The only thing missing, you might notice, is new music. But we got a glimmer of hope during Kanye’s much-discussed “DONDA” listening party in Atlanta last week. Jay-Z’s verse had everyone talking! It hints at a possible reunion, which would obviously be the biggest thing in music. “Watch The Throne” is still my favorite album of all time. Needless to say, my fingers are crossed.

p.s. A very Happy Birthday to our very own Alex Kirshbaum today. Find him online and show him love. He’s the dream weaver!

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Also published on Medium.