[artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] has chopped it up with plenty of mayjah bold-faced names, from Oprah to President Obama . But as a man recognized by Guinness World Records as one half of the world’s most successful power couple and the boss of a major web of businesses, Jay knows that you’re nobody in the finance game unless you have the “Sage of Omaha,” billionaire investor Warren Buffett, on speed dial.
Always looking to up his game, Jay recently sat down with Buffett at the first Forbes 400 Summit for an hourlong videotaped interview that will run in the new issue of Forbes, which includes a list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. As it turns out, the 40-year-old rapper — who was predicted to make the 400 list by 2015 — and the 80-year-old investment legend had way more in common than the magazine’s editors imagined.
While Jay listened intently to Buffett’s stories about how he has been able to turn his common sense and calm demeanor into one of the world’s biggest bankrolls, the rapper said that path is not so different from his own. Unlike Buffett, whose father began passing on his investment knowledge to Warren when he was 7 years old, Jigga said his experience came at a later point in life. Still, Jay said, he employed many of the same methods.
“My first album didn’t come out until I was 26, so I had a bit more maturity,” he said. “The album had all these emotions and complexities and layers that a typical hip-hop album didn’t have if you were making it at 16, 17 years old. That isn’t enough wealth of experience to share with the world. I had so much wealth to share with the world at that time, and I’ve never forgotten those things, like you say. You never forget those true things that you stick to, your basic things that make you successful.”
For Jay, those things start with finding the “truth of the moment” and providing genuine emotion his audience can connect with. The MC also praised a sixth-grade teacher who took a shine to him and encouraged his love of words and went on to explain why he’s had one of the most legendary careers in all of hip-hop.
“I think it goes back to a bit of what Warren was saying,” Jay said. “It’s the discipline not to get caught up in the moment. You know, music is like stocks, too. There’s the hot thing of the moment. There’s this hot, electro sound, or the hot Auto-Tune voice, or the hot whatever’s new and exciting. People tend to make emotional decisions based on that. They don’t stick with what they know, you know, this is who I am. This is what I do. They jump on this next hot thing. And it’s not for you.”
One of the most interesting tales involved Jay describing how he had to convince his old label, Def Jam, to allow him to buy his final record back from them after he accidentally lost the master tracks.
“What people don’t know is the day before I flew from Hawaii, where I was doing some recording and put it on an iPod,” he began to explain of his smash The Blueprint 3. “I had on jogging pants, and my iPod, with all the music I recorded, was missing. It was on the plane somewhere. I had to walk into [Universal Music Group Chairman] Doug’s [Morris] office the next day and buy an album back that might leak the next day. Every day I would wake up and check all the Internet places and everywhere. I was like that for three months.”
Even with the stress, he said it was worth buying the album and leaving to form his Roc Nation label because it gained him his freedom.
In addition to both men talking about how luck and timing played a big part in their success, Jay also said not having a big ego has served him well. “I don’t have that ego where I have to be the only guy on the bill,” he said of sharing stages with such fellow superstars as Eminem and U2.
“I’m cool with going out with other artists. I’ve been doing it my entire career. Before Eminem, before Bono, it was R. Kelly or 50 Cent or DMX. I just believe in giving people a better package so when they leave the concert hall, they want to come back again. A lot of people make that mistake when they’re hot. They just sell off the name and sell off the moment. We’re over-delivering on the experience.”
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