Rap legend Jay-Z appeared to reach the pinnacle of generosity when he splashed out more than $80,000 for a buddy’s birthday celebrations in early 2018. However, after news of his tip that night went viral, the Roc Nation mogul was in fact accused of being somewhat less than philanthropic. Here’s a look at what happened when J-Hova “went uptown and shut it down.”
And Jay-Z could more than afford to spend such a substantial amount on his friend, considering how rich he is today. But life hasn’t always been so kind to the man born Shawn Corey Carter. He grew up in a rough neighborhood, for one; as a teenager, he also spent much of his time hustling on the streets. But it was also on these streets that he first began showcasing his talents as a rapper and adopted the name Jay-Z. He would also co-found his own label, Roc-a-Fella Records, and release his first album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996. From then on, Jay-Z never looked back.
Indeed, the rapper’s career seemed to go from strength to strength in the years that followed. 1998 album Vol 2… Hard Knock Life won the Best Rap Album Grammy, for instance, while the 1999 follow-up, Vol 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The Blueprint was even hailed as an instant classic on its 2001 release. Jay-Z also recorded collaborative albums with members of the Roc-a-Fella roster and then R. Kelly before announcing his retirement with 2003’s The Black Album.
And while Jay-Z may have been exhausted after releasing eight albums and almost 30 singles in just seven years, his time out of the spotlight lasted just two years in the end. The rapper announced his comeback with the “I Declare War” concert in New York in 2005; the Kingdom Come album followed a year later. Jay-Z would go on to release the guest-heavy The Blueprint 3 in 2009 and score another Billboard album chart-topper two years later with Watch the Throne – a joint recording with fellow hip-hop king Kanye West.
Jay-Z has also since toured with Justin Timberlake, guested on tracks by Drake and DJ Khaled and become the first rap artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, in 2017 the star released his 13th studio effort, 4:44, featuring appearances from Damian Marley, Frank Ocean and his own mother, Gloria Carter. This collection received a Record of the Year nomination at the 2018 Grammys.
By this point, Jay-Z had sold upwards of 50 million long players and reached the top of the Billboard 200 an incredible 14 times. Furthermore, he had shifted some 75 million singles and scored four number ones in the format. And the Brooklyn boy also picked up no fewer than 21 Grammy Awards in the process; it’s little wonder, therefore, that he is regarded in some quarters as the greatest and most successful rapper in history.
Nonetheless, it should be remembered that Jay-Z is not just renowned for his music. His 2008 marriage to fellow superstar Beyoncé has also seen him become part of arguably the music industry’s foremost power couple. And since tying the knot, the “Crazy in Love” duo have welcomed three children: Blue Ivy Carter in 2012 and twins Sir and Rumi five years later.
But, as well as being a family man, Jay-Z is also a hugely successful business mogul. In addition to running Roc-a-Fella Records, the Roc Nation Sports agency and Roc Nation entertainment company, he also owns a sports bar and a clothing empire. Indeed, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s estimated combined wealth currently stands at a whopping $1.16 billion.
Therefore, it could be said that the six-figure sum the rapper spent on a night out is just small change to him. Celebrity news website Page Six reported that Jay-Z splashed the cash while celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday on February 18, 2018, in New York. The Sunday-night partying began with a $13,000 meal at Japanese restaurant Zuma in Midtown and moved up to the Made in Mexico bar on 10th Avenue, where the small group racked up a bill of $9,000.
And the friend in question was Juan “OG” Perez, president of Roc Nation Sports. The birthday boy’s wife, Desiree, was also in attendance, as was Emory Jones, a cousin of Jay-Z’s. Also among the posse that night was Big Bo, a brand ambassador for D’Ussé Cognac, which is part owned by Jay-Z. Bo later posted a picture from the evening on his Instagram page, captioned, “We went uptown and shut it down.”
But the big spending reached a whole new level when the five-strong party travelled further up 10th Avenue. In fact, the total bill for OG’s celebration raced further towards six figures after the group’s visit to the Playroom NYC club. On arrival, Jay-Z dropped just over $80,000 for a table and a further $11,000 on no fewer than 40 bottles of Armand de Brignac. Otherwise known as Ace of Spades, this is the rapper’s own brand of champagne. By the time the gang were ready to leave the club, then, they had racked up a $91,135 bill.
Of course, that sum does not include the five-figure tip that Jay-Z gave the staff at the Playroom NYC. Indeed, the mogul no doubt left workers stunned when he rewarded them with a tip of $11,100. Nevertheless, when one particular server uploaded an image of the star’s bill to Snapchat, Jay-Z soon found his generosity called into question by those on social media.
That’s because the gratuity amounted to less than 15 percent of the total bill – the minimum regarded as fair in the U.S. service industry. One math-minded Twitter user calculated that the multi-millionaire rapper had in fact only left a 13.87 percent tip. Another joked, “Jay-Z has 99 problems, but being a weak-ass tipper ain’t one!”
And in some rather unfortunate timing, Jay-Z’s relatively meager tip coincided with a much grander act of generosity from another hip-hop star. Just a few weeks earlier, Drake had given away more than $175,000 to Miami residents while filming the video for his hit “God’s Plan.” Drake’s own plan included checks made out to a student from the University of Miami and one of the city’s women’s shelters.
But not everyone was so dismissive about Jay-Z’s largess on his New York night out. One Twitter user commented, for instance, “Imagine Jay-Z randomly comes to your work one day and leaves you that tip. Jesus be my inhaler, I would actually pass out.” Another posted, meanwhile, “Imagine waking up thinking you’re gonna have a bad day at work and getting an $11,100 tip from Jay-Z.”
And a representative of the club itself did not appear to be too put-out about the gratuity. Indeed, an excited post on Playroom NYC’s Instagram page the day after read, “First of all, thank God for everything!! What happen last night has become the topic of discussion… but for us was more then the money!! Having the [greatest of all time] #jayz #rocnation in the building was priceless!!! Thanks to everyone that came out and behaved!!!”
Even so, one skeptical Twitter user advanced the theory that a canny Jay-Z had actually saved money on the night. That’s because, by racking up such a big bill, the rapper would be more likely to earn a large amount of valuable PR column inches. And by drinking nothing but his own Ace of Spades champagne, he may have therefore helped ensure that his brand received free coverage. In advertising terms, that kind of publicity would typically cost thousands.
And Jay-Z had also made sure to mix business with pleasure earlier on in the proceedings. Having devoured steak, lobster and sushi at Zuma, the group spent a fortune in Made in Mexico washing it down. One of the drinks they enjoyed there just happened to be Jay-Z’s cognac, D’Ussé.
But Perez’s birthday bash was a relatively cheap night out compared to one of Jay-Z’s previous clubbing expeditions. In 2011 the rapper spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on drinks alone at a Miami nightclub. On that occasion, he took care of any tight-fisted objections from would-be haters by leaving a 20 percent tip of $50,000.
Of course, Jay-Z’s bank balance has not been too affected by such elaborate partying. In fact, he was recently crowned the richest hip-hop star in the world by Forbes magazine. The 48-year-old knocked Diddy off pole position for the first time in the seven-year history of the category. And J-Hova’s investments in alcohol brands, such as Armand de Brignac and D’Ussé Cognac, have played a big part in the acquisition of that wealth – quite handy, should he wish to toast his amazing success.