Insatiable curiosity can transform good into great. While craft specialties require regular find tuning and practice, it seldom serves as the inspiration for the next big idea. More often, it is our unexpected conversations that take our work to a different plateau.

That’s what happened with Jay-Z’s recent studio album, 4:44.

Rap Radar, a well-regarded platform for discussions and interviews about all things hip hop, recently streamed the first part of their exclusive interview with the hip hop mogul.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jay-Z, allow me to introduce the man. Sean Carter was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Raised predominantly by his mother, a Jamaican immigrant, Mr. Carter grappled with issues that plagued his community from a young age. Drugs, violence, and crime were as familiar as shadows are during sunset.

Mr. Carter became involved in these illegal activities, but the more compelling story is how he spent the money he made.

Picture of jay-Z at an event

Many aspiring artists work and hope to be signed by major labels. Mr. Carter had similar dreams, but after he was rejected by dozens of out-of-touch A&Rs, he decided to open his own music label in 1995, called Roc-A-Fella records.

18 years, 16 artists, 8 films, and hundreds of millions of dollars later, Mr. Carter positioned himself as an invincible combination of art, vision, and business.  

Now, let’s talk about this interview.

The first part lasted a little over an hour. If you are a fan of hip hop, music, business, and entrepreneurship, this is a must watch. Below, we will touch on 3 lessons learned from Jay-Z’s interview.

1. Make Your Brand Timeless

Today should be concerned with tomorrow.

In an earlier segment of the interview, Jay-Z alludes to the growth and recognition of everything and everyone that precedes your product. Nothing is created out of nowhere. A culmination of important figures, achievements, traumas, and lessons brings you to where you are today; to where your product is today.

There is where the brand’s story lives. The connections made. Those lost. The highs getting higher and the lows getting lower. The changes you had to make. With these questions in mind, can you honestly say your brand stands a chance of lasting longer than a moment?

2. Collaboration Without Conversation is Useless

Behind every great product or service is a team of incredible men and women. An earth-shaking team doesn’t always have the smartest people. Each individual, however, provides the some of the best contributions.

We’ve seen it more times than you think. Facebook is what it is because of a conversation. Same thing with today’s Starbucks. Steve Jobs and Pixar. Absolut Vodka. Face it, conversation is one of the ultimate growth factors in business and life.

The album 4:44 has quickly been disputed as one of Jay-Z’s top albums. In the past, his flow, word acrobatics, and understated teachings have been pegged as the reasons behind previous top-charting albums. This time, it’s his honesty, vulnerability, and vision that sets this album apart.

 

 

The album goes into topics, some of which that are commonly untouched in the hip hop community, such as group economics, infidelity, being without a father, racism, children, legacies, and so much more. In the interview, Jay-Z talks about the 4 to 5 hour conversations he had with old friends and colleagues. He was shocked to learn certain things about his lifelong friends. He became inspired to rewrite different parts of his songs, but not for himself.

He understands that the final product isn’t about him. It’s about every person who can feel and connect to his story.   

When trust and honesty is present within a team, it allows room for thoughtful consideration and unbiased analysis to occur. Your product is meant to serve others more than yourself. So why not listen to their stories and see how your product can truly resonate with others?

 

Casual conversations over dinner can lead to enlightening moments.

3. Distribute Content with a Purpose

Your content provides the substance, context, and nuance for almost everything you do. Even if your hardware or software product is good on its own, it still has to compete with similar products. That’s why, today, content is considered king.

More companies have invested more time and resources into creating content. But what about its distribution? Sure, you have paid services and can leverage your own following, but are you simply releasing the content just for the sake of releasing it?

For the 4:44 album, Jay-Z did not issue a traditional statement about his 13th studio album’s release. Instead, he simply put the title across billboards, buses, taxis, and trains in major cities throughout the United States. If you are a Jay-Z fan, you will know his favorite number is 4. That’s just one thing he shares with his wife, Beyoncé Knowles. You will also know how intentional he is when it comes to placing symbols throughout his work.

The album title was seen plastered all over New York.

Within 24 hours, CNN reported that Jay-Z may be dropping an album. Did they know when? No. Nobody did. And fans kept talking about it until and after the album was finally released.

Your content’s distribution method can add a degree of urgency to your product’s release. Should you release everything to know at once? Maybe. Should you do a series of teaser trailers before unveiling the full one? Perhaps. Should you create a crossword puzzle that reveals the special features of the next generation of your product? Not a shabby idea.

Whatever method you choose, make sure it is in a form your audience is familiar with, enjoys, and can easily share.