Get it straight: this has been a banner season for Jay-Z.
Remember, it all began with two moves the public – and the industry to an extent – wasn’t so sure about:
“Suit & Tie” with Justin Timberlake …
and the divestment of ownership in the NBA/Nets to set up the Roc Nation Sports shingle. He’s signed Skylar Diggins, Geno Smith, Victor Cruz (reportedly), Robinson Cano and in somewhat of a coup, NBA All Star baller Kevin Durant.
He also has the tour set up with JT for the Summer.
In March, Universal Music Group did a deal two year to develop a music subscription service and app with – who else? – Samsung.
A month later Jay’s Roc Nation did a $150 milli deal with UMG & Live Nation to serve as the major label launchpad for his independent starship. Universal isn’t some middling record label trying to catch up in these digital times; they’re King Kong in this piece, the worlds largest and most dominant.
But this move with Samsung? The. Bumrush.
So this deal, a give-away of the album, Magna Carta Holy Grail available to a million Samsung subscribers, is good for all of Mr. Carter’s corporate partners, but it also gives Samsung some major cool cache to battle Apple (in their spots they regularly diss the iJuggernaut). What better way to get service branded and a presence than with a strategy that all but guarantees instant gravitas and delivers a million copies of the project from one of the most effective cultural connoisseurs to consumers directly?
That Jay is unleashing a multi-tentacled media plan shouldn’t be a surprise. It should in fact, be old hat by now: he makes moves.
Brooklyn keeps on takin’ it.
But the fact that he has a three minute clip showing him hanging out-slash-working with some of the most influential sound sculptors over parts of the past four decades and decides to drop an album out of nowhere is certifiably crazy and characteristically calculated and bold. He’ll probably win. Big.
It’s all probably a set-up for something even bigger.
But, this album from nowhere? The hints were there:
Pics with Raekwon …
and the Rat Pack Redux shot with JT, Nas & Timbo.
Hov managed to keep the album quiet by flying under the radar with an able assist from his lil’ bro Kanye, who, with the birth of his first baby and the release of his new album kept the spotlight squarely and blindingly on himself.
Talk about good lookin’ out.
Rick Rubin stretched out nappin’ on the couch is worth the budget by itself.
Reportedly the deal is for $20 million with Jay having already received $5 milli just for delivering the project. Trust that Mr. Carter and his people checked with Billboard and Soundscan before making the deal: Jay has a record 11 #1 albums. Barring some unforeseen glitch, this should be his twelfth.
He’s showing you how to do this, son. Take Notes.
Magna Carta Holy Grail is scheduled to be released on July 4th.
UPDATE: 2nd Jay-Z Samsung spot for Magna Carta Holy Grail