Last night I had a dream that Jay-Z and I were walking down 57th street in Manhattan. Talking in the most nonchalant and casual manner, as if he were one of the men I grew up with. Random people were awkwardly trying to greet and say hello to him. It wasn’t a circus however; he was only noticed by a few. One lady was arguing about selfishness to someone on her cell as we waited at the light. She noticed Jay, but it was more important for her to finish her conversation than necessarily “fan out.” The look on Jay’s face was one of contentment in that moment.
I thought my dream would go the way most dreams do. Poof… gone in a series of fluid and weird vignettes. Except the vividness of this dream felt real, not just in color, but the feelings I had within it were the same ones that I had back in Jane Addams High School (The Bronx) when I heard Jay-Z on a mixtape for the first time. My conversation with Jay-Z encapsulated his influence on my generation. It felt special. Coming from a generation that was privy to a rich amount of hip hop, from Rass Kass to Nice n Smooth; the wide variety of artists we were exposed to gave the music a deep complexion. For us there was actually a time when Jay-Z was not the man married to Beyoncé or sitting atop a multimillion-dollar company. He was hustler from Brooklyn, NY with a penchant for rhyming. What Jay-Z epitomizes for some is growth of the ideal culmination of hip hop. I left the argument of “best rapper” alone to focus more on his level of achievement, his constant articulation of successes. In this respect the dream felt like a discography of a fan and a creator getting to talk about what it all meant for us both.
Jay-Z’s Samsung Galaxy-partnered release is pioneering. At this moment, the music industry is in somewhat of a flux, and the impact of technology is tremendous. There is freedom to create an opportunity for yourself as an artist to associate with your fans directly. Sell your music to them, build a fan base, and engage in the community instantaneously. With an estimated net worth of nearly $500 million, with approximately 50 million albums sold worldwide, added to the already burgeoning business ventures that range from restaurants to a sports agency, Mr. “Magna” Carter appears to be firing on all cylinders. At the same time music sales have drastically declined, branding has become more important than ever. The totality of Jay-Z’s impact as a name, a business man, and an influencer is very interesting to gauge.
I’ve gathered figures from the music industry, advertising and media, and the youth to corral some responses:
Aisha Winfield (Music Executive & Director)Founder of Junior Music Executive and Executive Director of Jill Scott’s Blues Babe Foundation. A 16-year music industry veteran with a solid reputation in marketing and management.
Kujho Carr (Professional DJ & Radio Host)Kujho Carr hails from Hattiesburg MS and has been DJing professionally for four years starting as a DJ at 105.3 WQID and expanding his brand to the State of Mississippi and beyond.
DJ Schemes (Professional DJ & Radio Host)
DJ Schemes began his professional career in 2004 while attending West Virginia University. He currently spins at various DC hot spots like MOOD LOUNGE, STADIUM NIGHTCLUB, and ULTRA BAR NIGHTCLUB. He also spins for Core DJ Radio on Shade 45 Sirius XM Satellite radio.
Kenji Summers (Advertising Strategist & Youth Organizer) Kenji was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. He is an award winning advertising strategist that recently took a sabbatical from the ad industry to empower youth culture via his current organization Passport Life.
Latasha Alcindor “L.A.” (Music Artist)L.A. began her rap journey in 2010 starting as a spoken word poet with a passion for Hip Hop. She’s performed in a multitude of shows and lineups, including opening for Good Music’s Big Sean at NYU, The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival (2011), Toronto’s “Yes Yes Y’all” (2012) and a featured on MTV2′s Sucker Free Freestyles.
Aeja Spence (Youth)Aeja Spence is 15 years old. She loves music and working with kids. when she gets older she hopes to become a music artist manager.
Jaivaughntae Hodges (Youth)
Jaivaughntae Hodges is recent graduate of Frankford High School and an aspiring musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, rapper and producer.