5 Moguldom Lessons From The Billion-Dollar Rise Of Jay-Z

Jamarlin Martin
Written by Jamarlin Martin
Jay-Z billions
FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2018, file photo, honoree Jay-Z speaks onstage at the 2018 Pre-Grammy Gala And Salute To Industry Icons at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York. Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP, File

I remember almost 20 years ago I was in my Harlem apartment listening to my favorite Jay-Z song of all time, “Some How, Some Way,” featuring Beanie Sigel. The words were like gospel to me, where my family was motivated by BeBe & CeCe Winans back in the day. I found spiritual words in Jay and Beanie Sigel’s words on this track. The words were real, the words were authentic, and the words were entrepreneurial and motivational. We have to find a way, some how, some way.

After listening to this song possibly a thousand times, I found a way. I found so much way I was able to be an executive producer and drive the vision of the film “A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay-Z.”

“A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay-Z” appeared on Netflix, TV One, and has been viewed millions of times by people around the world.

Some viewed my documentary as too critical of Jay-Z but my job was to ask this question in 2013: What did Jay-Z really believe in as it relates to the freedom, justice, and equality of Black people? At the time, that wasn’t clear and a study of millennials concluded something similar: We don’t know what Jay-Z believes in other than making money.

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After this documentary came out, Jay-Z made a more balanced pivot toward leveraging his influence and power for the uplift of his people. He decided to speak up on issues such as the promiscuous police violence against Black America.

In studying his life, here are my top five lessons he dropped on Black America specifically.

Jay-Z's Tidal
FILE – In this Nov. 26, 2017 file photo, Jay-Z performs on the 4:44 Tour at Barclays Center in New York. Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)

1. Intellectual range

Like Tupac and Malcolm X, Jay-Z has always been interested in different things than your typical brother from the block. He shared this when he said, “As you thumb through The Source, I read the Robb Report.” Jay-Z was reading and listening to different things and sharing that he listened to Alanis Morissette when it wasn’t cool to be from the street and listen to more feminist music, white music.

Tupac, Malcolm X, and Jay-Z all had a lot of range. To go on the world stage and bang with the best at business or anything, you can’t be locked in whatever bubble everyone else is in at a given time. Someone shared with me the story of the goldfish. If you put a goldfish in a bathtub, it will swim like it is still confined within the goldfish bowl. Jay-Z knew there was a big world out there he had to master, in part from a natural genetic curiosity but we all could learn from this. This curiosity and a willingness to learn from the “full universe of knowledge” allowed him to pass his business teacher, Damon Dash.