Critical Analysis on Jay-Z





Critical Analysis on Jay-Z


Shawn Corey Carter or Jay-Z is one of the popular African American hip-hop rappers, executives and music producer. His massive popularity originates from his success in producing music as well as different business ventures including a nightclub, a clothing line, a recording studio and a sporting agency. The choice of Jay-Z as the preferred celebrity of choice in this essay is based on several reasons. One, he is one of the few artists that have managed to balance between entrepreneurship and art successfully. Jay Z’s music career has been underlined by a gradual yet upward growth regarding skill, content and audience reach. Two, Jay-Z is one of the preferred artists because of his social and economic background that was characterized by poverty, limited exposure to musical education and opposition from the state (Gordon 78). Lastly, Jay-Z is also an appropriate candidate for such an analysis because of his personal character that incorporated elements of cooperation, creativity and ambition. The contribution of the media, public relations firms and the celebrity himself in shaping how the public perceives celebrities is massive. All these actors create potential problems that affect other stakeholders and the artist himself (Deshaye 48).


Jay-Z was born in 1969 and was raised in the Marcy Projects (Belle 78). His teenage years were characterized by experimentation with rudimentary forms of rap music including a series of battle rap and freestyle sessions in clubs and talent searches. His debut album released under the supervision of Damon Dash and Kareem Burke introduced his music into the public sphere. After two years, Jay Z became, even more, popular with his next album. In 2003, Jay-Z declared that he would be retiring after releasing the Black Album but he returned to active music production in 2006. Since then, Jay-Z has collaborated mainly with Kanye West until 2013.  During his three-year recess from rap music, Jay-Z embarked on building his business empire that involved running the Def Jam Records. He created collaboration with Live Nation to assist in managing high-profile artists and musicians such as Rihanna, Shakira, and Kanye West. Apart from music, Jay-Z has also invested in the sports sector first as a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets and later as an independent sports agent (Belle 12). Jay-Z has managed to keep his private life away from the public. However, he married Beyonce Knowles in 2008 and had a daughter in 2012 (Deshaye 67).

Primary and Secondary Sources

One of the ways through which Jay-Z uses the media to his advantage is by creating associations and collaborations with other popular and successful artists. In this way, he ensures that he enjoys any success that emanates from these high-profile artists. His latest collaboration included artists such as Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyonce, and Madonna. However, the expansive use of collaborations has linked him to other actors with negative publicity (Belle 67). The most popular controversy that affected Jay-Z and his associates were the Illuminati rumor that painted the group as evil people. This affected their record sales negatively for over a year in 2009 and part of 2010 (Deshaye 29). Jay-Z has also been involved in publicized instances of violence, profanity and spreading messages laden with gender discrimination, debauchery, and recklessness.

Issues of Representation

Jay-Z has had significant success in handling his public affairs. The spectacular performance of several albums was the result of meticulous marketing efforts, convincing and growing, across a wide variety of digital and traditional media forms and channels (Deshaye 56). At the heart of the marketing strategy, he is developing an organic buzz and heightening the fan experience using the media. The strategies applied by Jay-Z have been praised and emulated by other large corporations desiring to increase their sales volumes. Another way Jay-Z is portrayed in the media is by concentrating on his business image rather than his music image. Therefore, in the public, Jay-Z tends to appear as a well-informed business mogul wearing three-piece suits and dealing with people in the boardroom. By painting the artist as a businessperson, the media effectively makes him more approachable, appealing and definitely more successful than ordinary hip-hop artists (Belle 45). Over the last five years, Jay-Z has been covered in the media while completing deals for Roc Nation and Tidal, two massive investments worth billions of dollars. However, he has scarcely been seen in music videos or events. Jay-Z has exploited the marketing tool of secrecy and surprise to ensure that his products and service enjoy massive popularity especially among online users (Deshaye 17). Furthermore, Jay-Z has also embraced the use of heavy press presence in all his undertakings, and this ensures that his content reaches the audience, managers, stakeholders and other interested parties.


Jay-Z is a perfect example of a success story of an individual who started from a lowly background and rose through the ranks to become one of the influential individuals in the music and sports industry. A greater part of this success can be traced back to the contribution of the media and public relations (Deshaye 12). Throughout the years, Jay-Z has managed to evade significant negative publicity including drunken driving, unfaithfulness and debauchery, a problem that has affected many other artists such as 2 Pac and Notorious BIG. Instead, Jay-Z has manipulated the various media platforms to his advantage. Jay-Z has also encountered significant negative publicity from the same global media that assisted him to build his empire.


Works Cited

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Belle, C. “From Jay-Z to Dead Prez: Examining Representations of Black Masculinity in Mainstream versus Underground Hip-Hop Music.” Journal of Black Studies. 45. 4 (2014): 287-300. Print.

Deshaye, Joel. The Metaphor of Celebrity: Canadian Poetry and the Public, 1955-1980. , 2013. Print.

Gordon, Stephen G. Jay-Z: CEO of Hip-Hop. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2013. Print.

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