Not one to be outdone by his BFF Kanye's recent goth phase, former Def Jam CEO and basketball magnate Jay-Z took some time over the weekend to announce the next stage in his own multi-hypenate career: Smartphone salesman.
During Sunday night's Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Hov re-introduced himself during a three-minute commercial, revealing that his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, will be available beginning July 4. In fact, the album's first million copies will be free to download — the catch being that you have to own a Samsung phone: Either the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, or Galaxy Note II.
Yep, you read that right: Magna Carta Holy Grail is being sponsored by the current Android kingmaker, which agreed to pay $5 for each digital album copy, theoretically grossing Hov $5 million off the bat.
"The internet's like the wild West," he says in the commercial above. "We have to write the new rules."
Despite the fact that billions of users around the world have been spending an unhealthy percentage of their lives on that internet thing for multiple decades, artist types were none too pleased with Samsung and Hov's unholy alliance, the terms of which are rumored to be worth $20 million. (After the commercial aired, DJ A-Trak said, "That Samsung s--t is corny.")
As the Atlantic Wire points out, this isn't even the first time Jay has released an album with the corporate backing of a major phone manufacturer: 2003's blasé The Black Album was pre-loaded on special edition Nokia 3300 phones as part of a deal. Let's also not forget that Mr. Carter's somewhat famous other half has recently inked lucrative ad partnerships with H&M and Pepsi, the latter of which, at $50 million, is worth more than double Jay's Samsung contract — proving once again that moms are the new breadwinners.
Still, it's not weird to feel at least a little uneasy by the gaudy commercialization of hip-hop by corporate firms that have historically shown no vested interest in the music. Such alliances have spawned questionable marketing drivel like...
...Sprite's "let's transform Drake into a creepy test dummy" spot:
...and Reebok's PR blundering with rapper Rick Ross:
...and BlackBerry's awkward idea to anoint R&B singer Alicia Keys as "Global Creative Director," despite the fact that she can't put down her iPhone.
That said, corporate sponsorships aren't going anywhere, and Jay-Z could probably care less about your eye-rolling as long as his safe and relatively bulletproof image as a do-everything success story doesn't take too big of a hit. He's a business maaaaaaan, after all.
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