Jay Z has recently released his 13th studio album, 4:44. After giving it many listens, I am thoroughly pleased with the project overall. This trend toward artists releasing albums that show them as more vulnerable and more human is creating some very impressive albums. Most notable of which being Lemonade, the album to which 4:44 is partly a response.
Aside from the angering yet heart-warming narration of the Carters’ marriage, the album was packed with more details of Jay Z’s personal life than all his other albums combined. I especially loved Smile, where Jay Z’s mother comes out as a lesbian. But what left me itching to blog was Jigga’s capitalist advice on The Story of OJ.
Invest Like Jay-Z Invests?
The first thing that needs to be addressed about the advice Jigga drops on the song is his intended audience. He calls out poor money habits like throwing money at strip clubs, and buying expensive cars. This seems to be directed at rappers, who are much richer than us common-folk, but make only chump-change in comparison to Jay-Z.
“I bought some artwork for 1 million-Jay-Z, Story of O.J.
2 years later, that shit worth 2 million
Few years later, that shit worth 8 million
I can’t wait to give this shit to my children”
Jay-Z has solid financial advice for those who already have a large amount of capital. But this advice is useless to most people…because you have to start out with that $1 million. The more capital someone has, the easier it is to profit from investing it.
Jay-Z speaks primarily about “flipping”, which buying something at a low price and selling it for a higher price. This can be done to land, art, and most notoriously, illicit drugs.
If I had $10, what could I do to flip it? I can’t afford any land, valuable art, or more than a gram of any drug with just $10. Something I can buy with $10: a t-shirt.
Say I buy a t-shirt at a store for $9, and sell it for $10. My profit is one dollar, I now have $11. That is assuming I can sell a $10 shirt, when clearly customers can get it cheaper ($9) at the store.
But what if I started out with $1,000?
I could buy t-shirts in bulk at a lower wholesale price, let’s say $6. If I buy 100 shirts, costing $600. Then sell them for $10 each, I make $1,000. And my profit would be $400, leaving me with $1,400! And I didn’t have to spend almost every dollar I had, unlike the $10 example.
This is called Economies of Scale, a basic economic principle we all know more commonly as, “It takes money to make money.”
The person starting with $1,000 profits hundreds of dollars more than the person starting with $10, not because they’re a better business owner…but just because they have more money.
Jay-Z gave some solid advice for how to grow and sustain millions of dollars, but no advice for how to get that first million.
What Can Be Learned?
“Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear
There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here”
While some of the advice may not apply to folks in every income bracket, the core principles of the lyrics still stand. While we’re not all in the position to purchase land or artwork, but we are all in the position to consume more moderately and save what we can. Jay-Z dedicated Story of O.J. to emphasizing that a small bundle of money posted on Instagram decreases in value over time, while assets like land and art gain value over time.
Jay-Z has been rich for so long, I’m not even sure he has advice on how to budget a bi-weekly, low wage check. But if you happen to be a millionaire rapper, please listen to him. The fault is not on Jay-Z, because the advice is sound. But hopefully, now it’s clear that the rich man’s “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and save your money. Then you can be rich too,” advice is not how money actually works.
Addition: I cannot write about this song without addressing the one cringe-worthy line.
“You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?”
Misconception: Jewish people own all the media and property, and control the economy.
Truth: Jewish people account for the majority of hate crime victims in this country, because of this type of thinking. It’s false, anti-semitic, and dangerous.