Jay Z could be losing credibility and clout among millennials


Jay Z has been a hip-hop star since the mid-1990s, and since the dawn of the 2000s, the Brooklyn rapper who climbed the pop culture ladder after humble beginnings in the Marcy Projects has come to represent a certain type of hood upward mobility that made him an icon to millions of fans. But according to BusinessInsider.com, that favorable view of Jay’s rise to affluence is beginning to shift. Reportedly, millennials are questioning Jay Z’s artistic integrity and wondering if his business-sense has undermined his abilities as an artist. Even more telling, is the apparent belief that Jay’s pursuit of wealth has somehow made him less trustworthy in the eyes of the public.

According to celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev’s research, Jay Z “scored 70 percent lower in the categories of trustworthiness and honesty than did celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lawrence.” Sehdev believes  that Jay’s image has become defined by his intense focus on making money “seemingly however he can.” He indicates that Jay is still popular–but viewed as in authentic.

More than 1,000 millennials were surveyed, and it was discovered that many of them say that Jay Z’s partnering with Samsung to release his 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail was the second-least popular celebrity marketing deal in the eyes of the 13-31 aged consumer group. Only Justin Bieber’s deal with OPI was more unpopular. Back in July, Jay Z gave away 1 million copies of Magna Carta… to Samsung users who downloaded a free app.

Has Jay’s focus on dollars eroded his credibility completely? Probably not. But Sehdev points out that, more than ever, younger fans are beginning to question who he really is. Corporate interests, his highly-publicized feud with entertainer-activist Harry Belafonte, his handling of the racial-profiling controversy surrounding his partnership with Barneys have gone a long way to turn him into more of a brand than an artist in the eyes of the public.

“Millennials question the exact nature of Jay Z’s role in the artistic process,” Sehdev said. “Does he really write his own songs? Is he choosing the artists to collaborate with, or is he just the face of a moneymaking empire?”

“Millennials questions his approach to loyalty, whether it be to a business deal or his fans,” Sehdev also added. “His motivations to just make money can be viewed by this audience as self-centered, even if they may be business savvy.”

But Sehdev did have praise for Jay’s recent candid conversation with Vanity Fair, in which the star spoke more openly than usual about his personal life.

“We rarely see this true side of him,” Sehdev said. “I believe Jay Z is going to need more exposure of his true self, meaningful partnerships, and true philanthropic efforts to get back into the good books of Millennials.”

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