Jay Z, his ex-consigliore John Meneilly, and “OG Juan” Perez, photographed while watching a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
on July 30, 2013.
Hov was still in the city after performing on his and Justin Timberlake’s “Legends of the Summer” tour. Two nights previous they had performed at the sold-out Rose Bowl in Pasadena, grossing over $7 million in revenue.
The Roc Nation Sports representatives were specifically there to watch their client Robinson Canó, who was [at the time] playing for the Bronx Bombers; and a friend of Jay’s for at least five years.
What makes this story more interesting is the fact that the famed sports agent Scott Boras was sitting about 15 feet away from the Roc Nation conglomerate. The formidable Boras had previously represented Canó, but on April 2, 2013 the second baseman became the first athlete to sign with the agency Hov had long-dreamed of starting. Four weeks before this game Hov had addressed the 60-year old agent—the only one in the world with more than $2 billion in active player contracts—on “Crown,” famously rapping “Scott Boras, you over baby! Robinson Canó, you coming with me!” Some may have seen the line as reckless, but Hov would soon prove the naysayers wrong [again] as he and RNS soon negotiated their new star a $240 million contract from the Seattle Mariners—the third biggest contract in baseball’s history.
The influential agent would soon fall for the oldest trick in rap’s book, by responding to the shots sent his way by someone far less experienced than himself in the sports representation business. Naïvely he would compare the entrance of the “business, man” into sports agency to “if Steven Spielberg walked into USC Medical Center and said, ‘I want to do neurosurgery,’ they don’t give him a scalpel.” Proving him wrong, RNS would quickly gain a reputation for being a “genuine” agency that puts their clients interests first and “really makes a significant contribution” to athletes across the board. Also, “[Jay] is mega-wealthy and uber-successful,“ as an unnamed prominent baseball agent once said. “He’s probably negotiated his own deals with record executives who are more cut-throat than any GM of a baseball team. You want to talk about big business? That’s big business.” Boras is also notorious for being focused on money and over-controlling with his clients interests, while Jay and his team are more focused on doing the best by their Roc representers: “[We will] form a company where we can help top athletes in various sports the same way we have been helping artists in the music industry for years.” The team at RNS puts the most emphasis on giving future-proofed financial advice to their clients—especially those who are just entering the sporting profession.
Jay-Z and P. Diddy, photographed while at a MTV-filmed party for The Dynasty: Roc La Familia in Los Angeles on November 7, 2000. Hov held the party to celebrate the album’s #1 debut on the Billboard 200, after it sold 557,789 copies in its first week of release. It has since been certified 2x Platinum, with over 2.3 million copies sold in the United States alone.
The party’s location was the roller rink Skateland in Northridge, with security giving the 200 guests a pair of skates on arrival. Others guests at the party included Ja Rule, Heavy D, Rashida Jones, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Brandy, Carmen Electra, actress Rachel Leigh Cook, comedian Bill Bellamy, model Rachel Hunter—and of course the entire Roc-A-Fella Records family. The audio responsibilities were handled by DJ Mark Ronson.
Hov performed during the party, and took the time to sent a shout-out to party guest Ja Rule, OutKast (who had debuted at #2 with Stankonia), and Nelly: “[Four] hip-hop artists in the top 10, it’s a beautiful thing. Shout out to OutKast. It’s a good thing for hip-hop in general. Just to have two artists sell over half a million records in one week. It’s just incredible for both of us to do the numbers that we’re doing and come in and be #1 and #2 on the charts in the country.“ He continued, “I want to thank all the fans out there, everybody out there for making me #1 in the country. I really, really appreciate all the support over the years. This is my fifth album in four years, and they’re still right there with me, like all the way, even stronger. My first album did 34,000 units the first week, maybe 40,000. It’s a long way from half a million. It’s a long, long way.”
Jay-Z, photographed while performing on the “Sprite Liquid Mix Tour” by Jason Campbell in August 2002.
Earlier that month Hov had returned from a two-week luxury European holiday—the first he had taken since entering the music business, and the first he ever took with then-girlfriend Beyoncé. They had visited various locations around Europe, including Saint-Tropez in France and the Italian island of Capri. It wasn’t all pleasure though—he had found some time to record a Bey-subliminal feature for Mariah Carey’s “You Got Me” when visiting her at the studio in Capri.
When he returned to the United States he headed straight to Hot 97 to address Nas’ recent Power 105.1 visit, in which he lambasted the “evil empire” Hot 97 for not letting him hang an effigy of Jay during his cancelled June “Summer Jam” performance. “Management told him not do it,” Angie Martinez explained to MTV News,“Nas then decided if he couldn’t do that portion of the show, he didn’t want to do any show. We were not trying to protect a specific artist, this was not about politics, money, nothing. This was just a decision that was made. That’s the truth.”
Hov set up residence at the station over two nights, and would pay for the advertising slots and cancel the “Top 5” song countdowns so he wouldn’t be interrupted. He dropped the legendary “Back From France” freestyle on Funkmaster Flex’s show, delivering witty lines in the way only Hov can. Recognizing its firepower, much of the freestyle would end up on “Hovi Baby” from The Blueprint²: The Gift & The Curse—an album he recorded off-and-on from December 2001 to August 2002.
When Jay spoke with
the Voice of New York herself he challenged his then-rival Nas to either a three-round boxing match or a pay-per-view rap battle. Don King had told him he would promote the event, and Jay wanted them to both put up $1 million, with the winner of the battle donating the ppv and ticket revenue to a chosen charity. Nas would reportedly decline to participate as he didn’t have the money. However, the beef lived on and the two rappers would continue to trade shots on wax for the rest of the year, with Hov’s “Blueprint²” being a standout release.