Jay-Z: Hip-Hop’s First Live Mogul (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Special)

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Roc Nation
– Jay-Z
Brooklyn Go Hard: Jay-Z pictured at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., during his 4:44 Tour in 2017. He appropriately opened the venue, home of the Brooklyn Nets, of which he owned a stake for a period.

He famously said it himself: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” But it’s more than that. 

While Jay-Z was crowned the first hip-hop billionaire in 2019, his accolades include other firsts such as most No. 1 albums by any solo artist – and the most by any type of artist at all, other than the Beatles – at 14. He also has the most Grammy Awards in hip-hop history, with 22 wins, and was the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2017.
Also known as Shawn Carter, husband to Queen Beyoncé  Knowles herself, Jay-Z becomes the third solo hip-hop artist and eighth rap artist overall to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, doing so in his first year of eligibility.
Jay-Z’s debut LP on his own Roc-A-Fella indie label, Reasonable Doubt, quickly pu the the Brooklyn upstart on the map, followed by the classic 2001 release The Blueprint, which included the Top 10 single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” featuring his unique swagger and trademark flow, only to be eclipsed by subsequent influential hits including the unforgettable “99 Problems” and the widely acclaimed The Black Album.  
Ever the visionary, Carter’s mogul status was already well established, becoming president of Def Jam Records in 2004 where he signed stars including Rihanna, Kanye West and J. Cole. Then came more influential music, including a mash-up album with Linkin Park, the Grammy-winning “Empire State Of Mind” love letter to New York City, and another chart-topping album with Kanye West, with another mega-star pairing with the Beyoncé / Jay-Z joint album, Everything Is Love.
Of course, being inducted in the Performer category, Jay-Z’s influence extends to the touring industry in unique ways. In 2008 Live Nation made a groundbreaking “360” partnership with Jay-Z and Roc Nation, the soon-to-be media juggernaut representing influential figures in all aspects of entertainment and sports. Although similar to deals made with longtime touring clients like U2, Madonna and others, the Roc Nation deal was different, and in 2018 was extended with a 10-year deal reportedly valued at $200 million.
“Jay-Z has always been a visionary,” Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino tells Pollstar via email. “First his music helped define hip-hop, then he went on to redefine show business by being both the show and the Chairman of the board. A true legend that has inspired so many across the globe, as well as everyone at Live Nation – congrats and well deserved my friend.”
The pairing was intended to redefine the live music landscape, and has done just that, with Jay-Z’s Philly-based Made In America Festival taking place for most of the past decade along with monster tours.  

Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images
– Jay-Z
Big Pimpin: Jay-Z performs at American Airlines Arena in Miami on Nov. 12, 2017. His 4:44 Tour grossed just shy of $40 million on 32 shows that year.
Smash tours include the “Magna Carter” world tour of 2013-2014 that sold out in minutes, and his “4:44” solo tour of 2017 upped the production and pricing game. Co-bills with Justin Timberlake (“Legends of The Summer Stadium Tour”) and Kanye West (“Watch The Throne”) kept him at the forefront of the live industry, but, of course, his co-headlining “On The Run” worldwide stadium tours with Beyoncé took things to another level. 
Pollstar’s extensive boxoffice history on Jay-Z have his overall gross (including with Beyoncé) at $721.6 million grossed over 448 shows, on 7.8 million tickets sold. Breaking down those numbers further, his per-show gross at all venues is $1.6 million at more than 17,000 tickets per event, with a staggering $5 million average gross at 86 stadium plays. To say that Jay-Z has been a rare success in music, entertainment and sports would already be an understatement, and that’s barely touching on the TIDAL streaming platform her developed – taking a page from the Netflix content-exclusive model – which he reportedly just sold to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for close to $300 million.  
Still, his impact goes further, with political fundraisers, performing at presidential inaugurations, and an outspoken advocate for civil rights. His 2017 track “The Story of O.J.” tastefully tackled systemic racism, and he was enlisted by the NFL to bolster the league not only as a consultant in entertainment – including the massive Super Bowl halftime show – but toward social activism and justice as well. 
“Roc Nation is one of the most globally influential and impactful organizations in entertainment,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said of the deal. “The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country. We are thrilled to partner with Roc Nation and look forward to making a difference in our communities together.”
The league not only will use Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to consult on its entertainment presentations, including the Super Bowl halftime show, but to work with the rapper and entrepreneur’s company to “strengthen community through music and the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative.” NFL owners agreed to contribute up to $89 million over six years toward causes players were supporting. With the league at times contending with social and political public relations crises, the NFL made a statement in partnering with someone as revered and respected as Jay-Z.
For his induction, Jay-Z is lending a 72-inch by 96-inch oil portrait he purchased from New Orleans artist Jerin “Jerk” Beasley titled “Tree of Life,” according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“We sent photos of what we’ve done in the past and Jay-Z’s team shared what his interpretation was of his success and what it means to him,” Nwaka Onwusa, vice president and chief curator at the Rock Hall, told the paper. “It’s so in line with who he is now, and his fans will appreciate and understand that. Music is art and art is music in a way.” 
Despite being a billionaire music and sports mogul, Hova is also a father of three, and recently shared something all parents can relate to. Upon learning he was inducted to the Rock Hall, he was taking daughter Blue Ivy to school, as he told “The Shop” on HBO.
“I was taking Blue to school … I was like, ‘This ain’t no celebration!’ (laughing) She walked away and I was like, ‘Yo! I can’t get a kiss? I’m in the Hall of Fame!’” To which an unimpressed Blue replied, “Bye, dad.”