As he once famously put it, rapper and media mogul Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is less a businessman than a business, man. Forbes ranks him among the richest people in the hip hop music world with a net worth of approximately $USD 810 million. Though his stake in music streaming service TIDAL has been the subject of much controversy and criticism – with the company having been reported by various outlets to be bleeding capital – there is no doubt that Jay’s rise to fame and wealth is not just the result of his star power, but also a mindful approach to savvy money management and investment.
Jay-Z’s latest album, 4:44 was something of an emotional affair, as a new, more mature Jay owned up to the mistakes he’d made in his past (many of which were called out by his equally influential and wealthy wife, Beyoncé, on her standout Lemonade last year.) Beyond the introspective cuts, the man known to millions as Hov presented himself as a mentor, dispensing wisdom from his long journey to wealth and influence on songs like “The Story of OJ” and “Family Feud.” Inspired by this tradition of mentorship, American financial advisor, speaker and radio host Ash Exantus, known on the internet as @iamashcash, has written one of the most unconventional, yet interesting financial advice books we are likely to see this year.
Titled The Wake Up Call: Financial Inspiration Learned from 4:44 + A Step by Step Guide on How to Implement Each Financial Principle, Exantus’ book is built from the ground up to inform and educate African-American audiences, and younger ones in particular, about financial principles. The author told music industry blog HipHopDX:
“My inspiration for the book was that Jay was giving so much knowledge about how you can become financially free … as an individual as well as how we (as a culture) can break the cycle of poverty in our community.”
Topics covered in the book include: the basics of building credit, planning and budgeting, starting community-oriented small businesses, investing, and creating a financial legacy to pass down to the next generation to come.
Hip hop artists have long been the targets of criticism for what at first glance can appear to be a continuous endorsement of a lifestyle of excess and conspicuous wealth. However, as Jay and others have taught us, the pursuit of material and financial success as a proof of one’s artistic legitimacy and rise to prominence is coming into a complex moral conflict with the need to fight against socially and economically oppressive conditions that affect communities of colour.
Given how difficult it can be to break through into the proverbial pantheon of pop culture, Jay-Z is probably not alone in being able to translate some of his life experience and lessons into valuable financial insight. This book promises to explore that experience in new ways, and may be worth a read for anyone looking to grow their financial knowledge through a creative and contemporary lens.