They’ve balled out on more islands than Thurston Howell III and Lovey, flown in more jets than Jonathan and Jennifer Hart and styled on more red carpets than Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. They are Jay-Z and Beyoncé, music’s number-one power couple, and right now they have the clubs and radio in the palm of their hands like a string of pearls with their love letter to luxury, the Swizz Beatz-produced “Upgrade U.”
As the song demonstrates, the two don’t get the best-dressed title every time they step out on the town for no reason — they have money to match their impeccable tastes. In “Upgrade You,” B and Young Hov throw out a bunch of promises that would have Robin Leach salivating. But not everyone out there runs in those $300-million-plus circles, so here’s a guide to some of the conspicuous name-dropping in the song — and a list of five couples who’ve benefited from a little upgrading.
Lyric: “Partner, let me upgrade you/ Audemars Piguet you” — Beyoncé
What they’re talking about: Some artists’ budgets for entire albums aren’t as high as the price of top-of-the-line Audemars Piguet watches. The most expensive, according to Forbes magazine, runs $700,000 — and that’s not even with ice on it. The timepiece company was started in 1875 by partners Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. For ballas on a budget, you might be able to cop one for about five Gs, but you know Hov is wearing one that costs way more than that. Jay has his own stainless steel limited-edition Royal Oak Offshore.
Lyric: “They call shots, I call audibles/ Jacob the Jeweler, baubles/ Lorraine Schwartz oughta do” — Jay-Z
What they’re talking about: While the hip-hop world clamors to get its shines from Jacob the Jeweler, Lorraine Schwartz has had Hollywood in her clutches for the past few years. Halle Berry really started blowing up her diamond collection when she wore some of Schwartz’s jewels at the 2002 Golden Globe Awards. Diddy has worn a 60-carat Schwartz ring (worth $2.5 million) to the VMAs, and of course Beyoncé has been seen in Schwartz’s ice as well.
Lyric: “Switch your necktie to Purple Labels” — Beyoncé
What they’re talking about: Young H.O. has been hollering about Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label — a higher-end division of the legendary designer’s clothing line — for a few years now. Purple Label has everything from $300-plus shirts to $1,500 suits to the ties B sings about. They’ll run you about $150.
Lyric: “Dimples in ya necktie/ Hermès briefcase” — Beyoncé
What they’re talking about: Jay namedrops the Hermès Birkin bag on Kingdom Come’s “30 Something” (plan to spend from $500 to $25,000 on that one), and on “Upgrade You,” his lady love hollas back, promising the briefcase. Definitely a couple large for a good one.
Lyric: “Cartier tie clips/ Silk-lined blazers/ Diamond-cream facials, VVS cufflinks/ Six-star pent suites” — Beyoncé
What they’re talking about: You need something to hold those Purple Label ties in place, right? For a few hundred dollars, you too can get fly and fresh with a tie clip by high-end designer Cartier.
Two hundred thirty-five bucks for only 1.7 ounces of Natura Bisse Diamond Cream? Guess you’re really paying for that diamond dust mixed in the cream (no joke: there really is such a thing as diamond dust). Who cares if this lotion does proclaim to have anti-aging powers? Is it really that much better than a $4.86 bottle of Palmer’s cocoa butter? You get 4.7 ounces for that price at your local drugstore.
Just to give you an idea of what Jay and B are working with: A top-of-the-line, five-star penthouse suite at a hotel like Miami’s Setai costs around $25,000 a night. Once you get to six-star level, that Amex Black Card comes in handy. There are very few six-stars, such as Crown Macau in China and Dreams Los Cabos near San Jose del Cabo in Mexico, but obviously you can expect the Daddy Warbucks treatment when you stay at these places: butlers, bathrooms the size of apartments, private pools and pick-up from the airport (or should we say private jet hangar?) in a Rolls Royce — or maybe a helicopter.
Lyric: “It’s humorous to me they watching/ And we just yachting/ Island-hopping off the Amalfi Coast/ Mafioso, Hov baby, you ever seen Saturn?” — Jay-Z
What they’re talking about: The Amalfi Coast is located in southern Italy. It’s an easy trek to the islands of Capri, the Bay of Naples’ Ischia and Procida.
Lyric: “I’m talking Spy Bags and fly pads, and rooms at the Bloomberg” — Jay-Z
What they’re talking about: Backpack hip-hop lovers gag now: You can cop a Fendi Spy Bag for your lady for a little over two Gs, on the low end.
The Bloomberg Luxury Accommodation Group is located in South Africa and caters to Hollywood-millionaire types. Beaches, sunsets, perfect weather — wonder if this is where Jay thought of the title “Beach Chair”?
Five Great Upgrades
Each of these women came in and totally stepped her man’s game all the way up.
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
K-Fed was a struggling backup dancer, and once he hooked up with Britney, he was still struggling — struggling to sell tickets to his concerts and struggling to convince people he wasn’t the worst rapper of all time. … But at least now everybody knows his name, and it’s rumored that the pre-nup might make him millions of dollars richer.
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
Bobby was the king of R&B when he married Houston more than a decade ago, but he never would have had one of our favorite reality series of all time without Nippy. What would “Being Bobby Brown” have been without Whitney yelling, “Hell to da naw”?
Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold
Once upon a time, Roseanne was the biggest star on TV not named Cosby. Who would have known her no-name hubby would carve out a decent career as a Hollywood C-list actor? He’s done movies with Steven Seagal, DMX and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Flavorettes and Flavor Flav
Flav was a rap legend before he started handing out classy names to an assortment of women like “Nibblz,” “Buckwild” and “Hood.” But seeing how these women break their necks (and each other’s) to try and gain his love has elevated the author of “911 Is a Joke” from world’s greatest hype man to world’s unlikeliest sex symbol.
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
Stedman has been linked with one of the wealthiest women in the world for almost two decades. He never married Oprah or had a child with her, and he doesn’t have to roll out of town when she runs across the country with her best friend, Gayle.