Jay-Z's record label Roc Nation is having quite a month. Just seven days ago, it announced plans to branch into a sports-agent business, with Yankees star Robinson Cano as its first client. Then this morning, Jay-Z announced a multi-year, worldwide partnership with Universal Music Group, America's biggest music label.
The deal represents an 'round-the-block-and-back-again moment for Jay-Z, who jettisoned his title as president of Universal's Def Jam Records five years ago to start Roc Nation, a joint venture with Live Nation Entertainment, in a deal worth a hefty $150 million.
But what this means for Jay-Z — whose star-packed roster includes Rihanna, Shakira, Timbaland, M.I.A., and Kylie Minogue, among others — may not be as significant as what it means for Universal. Now, hip-hop's biggest earners — Diddy, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Birdman, and 50 Cent — will all fall under Universal's umbrella, making the label a kingdom of kings in the music world.
The biggest coup by Universal might be Jay-Z himself. The most successful solo artist of all time — with 11 number one records and counting — Jay-Z will now release his own music under Universal as well, instead of Atlantic Records, which he worked with for The Blueprint 3.
The details of the deal are still under wraps ("and to hell with the price, cause money ain't a thang"), but the New York Times reports that an anonymous source "said it was one of the more competitive label auctions in recent years, with interest from all the major record companies. Sony and Universal, the two largest record conglomerates, have been competing intensely to sign deals with top artists and independent labels."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
- 10 things you need to know today: November 27, 2014
- How to stop Black Thursday — and still score that big screen
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- How to deep fry a turkey
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
Subscribe to the Week