JAY-Z has stayed productive during lockdown.
In addition to launching his own cannabis brand, hip-hop’s first billionaire sold half of his champagne brand Armand de Brignac to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and a majority ownership stake in TIDAL to Square, Inc., all within the first few months of 2021.
In a rare interview with The Sunday Times to promote his partnership with Puma (JAY-Z is creative director), the 51-year-old rap mogul hopped on a Zoom call to discuss life in lockdown with Beyoncé and their three children.
“In the beginning it was time for everyone to sit down and really connect, and really focus on family and being together, and take this time to learn more about each other,” says JAY-Z. “And then, as it wore on, it’s like, ‘OK, all right, what is the new normal?’”
“If anything came from this,” he says of the pandemic, “it’s that we have to recognize that we’re all connected. It’s a metaphor for how connected we are.”
He remains optimistic about life post-COVID, but has no plans to tour in the near future. “I’m not planning it, but I’m definitely missing it,” he says.
Fresh from the gym where it was leg day (“You ever seen my legs? They’re horrible,” he jokes), he takes a moment to acknowledge his youngest daughter off camera. “Hiii, beautiful!” he says while blowing kisses. “That’s my youngest daughter, Rumi.”
Despite his successful business ventures, family remains his “foundation.” “Feeling loved is the most important thing a child needs, you know? Not ‘Here’s this business that I’m going to hand over to you, that I’m creating for you,’” says JAY-Z. “What if my child doesn’t want to be in music or sports? I have no idea, right? But as long as your child feels supported, and feels loved, I think anything is possible.”
He adds, “Just make sure we provide a loving environment, be very attentive to who they want to be. It’s easy for us, as human beings, to want our children to do certain things, but we have no idea. We’re just guides.”
Amid the trial of Derek Chauvin for George Floyd’s murder, he can’t help but feel that there’s still a long way to go (“It’s very frustrating”), but acknowledges that progress has been made. “As a human race we’re still on basic things. We’re still on Stop Asian Hate. We can’t sit and cry over spilt milk, but we do have to acknowledge that there’s milk, right?” he says, adding, “Are we here today? No. Are we further than 50 years ago? Yes.”
Although he rarely uses social media, he sees why it’s become a necessary tool for today’s stars. “You can’t give someone a microphone for 24 hours a day and [have them] not think they have to use it!” he says. “These kids, it’s unbelievable. Imagine having a microphone and you’re asked about social justice questions at 18 years old? It’s like, ‘What? I’m meant to know the answer, and if I don’t answer the correct way, if I don’t say everything right, even if my intentions are right, and I don’t say the same right thing, it’s going to be everywhere.’”
While he’s opened many doors, he remains humble about his legacy. “I have no idea,” he says when asks how he wants to be remembered. “I’m not beyond ego, right? Hopefully they speak of me [with] the names of Bob Marley and all the greats. But that’s not for me to say.”
When asked what he’s most proud of, he responds, “I’m most proud of overcoming my circumstances and providing opportunity for people who look like me and who came from the same situation that I’ve come from.”