New Jay-Z: The Sellout

• July 2, 2013 3:08 pm


It’s as good a time as any to acknowledge that we’re a little over a day from a brand new Jay-Z album. We're now within 48 hours of the end of the countdown clock. This should be considered a watershed moment in hip-hop. The ambassador of hip-hop culture to mainstream America is releasing his twelfth album, hot on the heels of the "Yeezus" movement. And yet I just can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm for an artist I genuinely appreciate.

There’s something contrived in having the new Jay-Z album beamed into your fresh-out-of-the-package Samsung Galaxy five days earlier than the rest of the world. Samsung paid Jay-Z for a million copies to get the album first.

The marketing strategy of "Magna Carta Holy Grail" (MCHG) is built around Jay using 40-second advertisements masquerading as behind-the-scene studio sessions to remind everyone that the Internet is "the wild west" and that "(he) need(s) to write the new rules."

Writing new rules is what Killer Mike—this here Blog’s favorite rapper—did by releasing his 10 song EP, "Run the Jewels," for free online.

No marketing gimmicks. No keeping Pharrell from performing the "Blurred Lines" video live. Killa Kill hyped it up using social media and word-of-mouth and just dropped it. Unlike some people.

Jay-Z is perhaps the only hip-hop artist who can retain any credibility after this type of a stunt. And only because he’s been monetizing his brand for so long that people aren’t surprised he’s lip-locked with a cellphone company.

Jay-Z said in 2005 that he was "not a businessman, but a business, man." It took him long enough to finally just give up and sell-out.

Published under: Hip Hop, Video