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MAGAZINE FAB: Jay-Z & Warren Buffett Cover FORBES Magazine!!

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It does not get any more inspirational than this….Jay Z, dude from Marcy Projects sharing cover of major U.S magazine, Forbes, with the world’s third richest man, Warren Buffett whose net-worth is estimated to be U.S.$47 billion!

Music mogul & # 1 Hip-Hop Cash King, Jay-Z (who made U.S$63 million in 2010 despite a shaky U.S economy) and billionaire investor Warren Buffett cover the 2010 Special Edition of Forbes Magazine’s “400 Richest People In The World” Issue.

The two men  sat down with Steve Forbes for an hour long conversation on success and giving back.
Check out excerpts from the interview below:

Steve Forbes: Jay, you’re in a business even more competitive. There’s not a young person in the country who at some point in their lives doesn’t want to be a star. And you not only have done it but done it consistently.Jay-Z: As I was listening to Warren, I could just hear all the similarities and all the things in what he’s saying, right? Because if you don’t look at the tickers, you’re really just searching for the truth within all the numbers and all the chaos. And that’s the key to being a recording artist. You’re telling your story or finding your truth at the moment.

My story’s a little opposite from Warren because I started a little later. My first album didn’t come out until I was 26, so I had a bit more maturity. The album had all these emotions and complexities and layers that a typical hip-hop album didn’t have if you were making it at 16, 17 years old. That isn’t enough wealth of experience to share with the world. I had so much wealth to share with the world at that time, and I’ve never forgotten those things, like you say. You never forget those true things that you stick to, your basic things that make you successful.

And for me, it’s that truth, finding the truth of the moment, of where I am at the time, not trying to cater to a certain demographic or being something I’m not, not driving the truck over a 10,000-pound bridge. There are so many similarities in what he was just saying. So for me, it’s just having the discipline, and the confidence in who I am. If I go into a studio and find my truth of the moment, there are a number of people in the world who can relate to what I’m saying, and are going to buy into what I’m doing. Not because it’s the new thing of the moment, but because it’s genuine emotion. It’s how I feel. This is how I articulate the world.

SF: Jay, you mentioned at lunch that you got your love of words at a young age from a sixth-grade teacher who brought that out in you, and it has stayed with you for a lifetime.

JZ: I grew up in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Our classrooms were flooded. It was very difficult for teachers to give you one-on-one attention. And there was this one sixth-grade teacher named Miss Lowden. She must have seen something in me, and she gave me this attention and this love for words. It’s funny how it works, just a little bit of attention. She also took us on a field trip to her house, which opened me up to the world. My neighborhood had been my world. It’s the only thing I had seen. I saw a whole different world that day, and my imagination grew from there. I wanted that. I aspired to have that. The small things. She had an ice thing on her refrigerator. You know, you push it and the ice and the water comes down. I was really amazed by that. I was like, I want one of those. It’s true.

SF: Even though you didn’t record your first album until you were 26, you were in effect writing music in your mind.

JZ: I was around music my whole life. My mom and pop had a huge record collection, so I started out listening to music early on, and I would just write. I had a love for it from there. I didn’t get to it, you know. I got caught into my neighborhood and my surroundings. But I’ve always taken it with me, and I’ve always gone back to it. It just got to a point where it was, like, “Make this decision, because this is something you really love and you love to do. “It’s time to really focus on and then get serious about it, give it your all.” And once I did that, it was no looking back from there.

SF: Jay, a lot of people fade away after one or two albums. That hasn’t happened to you.

JZ: I think it goes back to a bit of what Warren was saying. It’s the discipline not to get caught up in the moment. You know, music is like stocks, too. There’s the hot thing of the moment. There’s this hot, electro sound, or the hot auto-tune voice, or the hot whatever’s new and exciting. People tend to make emotional decisions based on that. They don’t stick with what they know, you know, this is who I am. This is what I do. They jump on this next hot thing. And it’s not for you.

SF: You once said that as an artist you’re fighting against everything that’s new and everyone’s fascination with new things.

JZ: Yeah, shiny things. People fall in love with shiny things.

SF: As you grow older, can you bring an audience with you because the topic of your music grows with you?

JZ: Yeah, because hip-hop is, like, 30 years old. It’s a fairly new genre of music. We’ve never seen the maturation of hip-hop in this sort of way. People would get to a certain age and still try to pinpoint at this young demographic because hip-hop is a young man’s sport. But, you know, people that listen to hip-hop when they’re 18 listen to it when they’re 28. It’s just that the voices of hip-hop are not speaking directly to them anymore. Or weren’t. They’re speaking to an 18 year old. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m just going to make the music I love to make and I’m going to mature with my music. Luckily for me, it was the right decision.

SF: When did you realize you had to treat music as a business, to avoid ending up as so many do, losing everything they have?

JZ: That was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off, to convince artists that you can’t be an artist and make money. I think the people that were making the millions said that. It was almost shameful, especially in rock ‘n’ roll. Here you got these millionaire guys who had to pretend as if they weren’t successful at all or it would be like a detriment to their career. Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational. It always broke that notion that an artist can’t think about money as well. Just so long as you separate the two and you’re not making music with business in mind. At some point it has to be real when they touch it, when they listen to it. Something has to resonate with them that’s real. When you’re in the studio you’re an artist, you make music, and then after you finish, you market it to the world. I don’t think anything is wrong with that. In fact, I know there’s nothing wrong with that.

SF: When you were president of Def Jam Records you saw what was wrong with the music business. You wanted out and were willing to pay money to get yourself out.

JZ: For a long time a hit record solved all your problems because there was no Internet, YouTube and so many other factors. It was just the music. That model still exists of just putting artists out and seeing what works. As the machine started moving faster, a lot of things got lost in the process, like artist development. It got to a point where as a business we were releasing hundreds of albums every year, and the percentages were really low, like out of 56 albums four artists worked. At Def Jam I wanted to bring the entire culture into it. I wanted a fund so I could do other things aside from signing artists, like buying a television station or a club where we can develop these artists, or putting out some headphones, all these different things. I don’t think at that time they could really get their mind around that. It’s not something they were willing to do. I just felt like I would be a waste there. So I started my own thing, Roc Nation, and that’s what we do. We pretty much have everything: music publishing, songwriters, recording, touring.

SF: Didn’t you end up paying $5 million to buy your last album from Def Jam?

JZ: I have a better story for you. The year I went over to create Roc Nation with Live Nation, I still had one album left to make with Def Jam. L.A. Reid, the chairman of Def Jam at the time, did a great thing for me. He allowed me to walk in and have the conversation with [chairman of parent company Universal Music Group] Doug Morris. We had a fantastic relationship. So it was very cool. I bought my last album back. What people don’t know is the day before I flew from Hawaii, where I was doing some recording and put it on an iPod. I had on jogging pants, and my iPod, with all the music I recorded, was missing. It was on the plane somewhere. I had to walk into Doug’s office the next day and buy an album back that might leak the next day. Every day I would wake up and check all the Internet places and everywhere. I was like that for three months.

But it was worth it, you know. I was heading in a different direction and needed that freedom. It was a great decision for the company. They got some money. And a great decision for me. I got a very successful album, Blueprint 3, which had “Empire State of Mind” on it. That sold about 4 million singles itself. And my first solo number-one single came off that. I believe in everything lining up.

SF: Jay, where you grew up, you could have easily ended up being put away.

JZ: Yeah. There are very few people from my neighborhood that make it out. Forget about being successful, I mean making it out alive or just incarcerated. I have a great friend who just came home, one of the most beautiful people you’d ever meet; he just came home from doing 13 years. And we were together every single day. Back then there was a guy by the name of Jazz who I started out with. He had a deal with EMI. He had the opportunity to go to London to record his album. I went along with him for two months. In those two months there was a sting operation and they took my friend I’m talking about, for 13 years. The only reason I wasn’t there was because I was away doing this music stuff. Had it not been for music, and music taking me out at the right time, my life could very easily have been his, very easily.

SF: Jay, how are you going to survive in a business where the old rules are no longer true?

JZ: There was a time in music where a hit solved everything. That’s no longer true. I think the music business is still stuck in that place because we haven’t figured it out. One of the biggest things in business is to open yourself up for change. We don’t have to change who we are, we have to change the way we go about it.

At Roc Nation we’re taking our time with artist development, but there are many parts of the business that we’re in. For a long time, music labels weren’t into touring and now they’re making up these 360 deals [where labels get a piece of everything: albums, tours, merchandise]. I don’t want this to be a record-company-bashing thing but this whole 360 model is not what the record company does. The record company is not in the touring business. So why would an artist sign with you when that’s not your area of expertise? We’re with the biggest concert promoter there is, and there’s just so many different aspects we’re into to make ourselves successful: touring, producing, publishing, clothing, movies.

WB: I don’t want to compete with him, Steve. I’m not interested.

SF: Jay, you’re also wise enough, or big enough, where you don’t mind sharing billing with Eminem or Bono.

JZ: It’s fun for me, for one thing. I don’t have that ego where I have to be the only guy on the bill. I’m cool with going out with other artists. I’ve been doing it my entire career. Before Eminem, before Bono, it was R. Kelly or 50 Cent or DMX. I just believe in giving people a better package so when they leave the concert hall, they want to come back again. A lot of people make that mistake when they’re hot. They just sell off the name and sell off the moment. We’re over-delivering on the experience.

SF: Warren, you said you wouldn’t want to compete with Jay. What advice would you give?

JZ: He’s super-duper joking.

SF: Jay, you have any advice you want to give to Warren on building moats?

JZ: What am I going to say to this guy, man?

WB: He can do things I can’t do, believe me! I can’t do anything he does.

SF: Jay, you’re just beginning to look at charities. You have the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. Where do you see it going?

JZ: The reason I’ve focused on that is because such a small thing changed my life, right? A sixth-grade teacher said, “You know what, you’re kind of smart.” And I believed her. I said, “I’m smart, right?”

So she gave me that sort of opportunity. She sparked that idea in my mind. So that’s why my first thing is a scholarship fund, because there are a ton of very intelligent kids coming out of these urban areas who can make it all the way if given the opportunity. It’s a challenge that I gave to my mom. And my mom is so involved with it. She gets on the bus, and she takes these kids to their interview with colleges. And now we’re starting to see kids graduate from college, and I’m getting that sort of feeling when it’s real, you know. I’m not just sitting home, writing a check to make myself feel good. It’s something I really want to do, and I’m into it and excited about it.

SF: Jay will soon be on it. Jay, how do you get the message out to your audience that giving doesn’t have to be dollars? It could be time, like the way your sixth-grade teacher did?

JZ: As entertainers, we’re the first generation to capitalize on our talent. For many years artists were dying broke, because the record companies took advantage of them. I’m not talking about rock stars, like Bono. The first thing for me is to lead by example and show how these things have an effect on people’s lives in a real way. I know there is a future generation of stars in my old neighborhood that we must help out, to become what they could be if given the opportunity. So my first thing is to show by example and pull a guy in like Puff [Daddy]. We made a huge pledge to Katrina together. I think we could have done more. It showed hip-hop the power in doing things together. We’ll move forward from there.

SF: Fifty years from now, when people say Warren Buffett, what words will come to mind?

SF: Jay?

JZ: I hope to inspire. I guess Obama took this thing already but just the hope of how far we can make it and the hope in knowing how far you can go from where you started if you really apply yourself and stay true to who you are.

WB: Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. They’re going to learn from somebody. For a young person growing up he’s the guy to learn from.

For more on the interview, CLICK HERE!

How Inspirational Is This To You?!?!?


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farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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  • Allegro D

    Very inspirational, it's people like them that make it worthwhile waking up everyday to do what you do best and succeed in it. Big uups to Jay and much RESPECT!!!