If you are a fan of hip-hop, and why wouldn’t you be?, then you have probably heard the name Jay-Z pop up in various places like Twitter a
few million times over the past week. That’s because Jay, aka Hova, aka Shawn Carter released his very humbling and selflessly titled album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, on July 4th. (He also amazingly was allowed to reveal the album’s artwork in the UK alongside one of the remaining original Magna Carta documents, because well, $$$). While the album doesn’t officially drop until this Tuesday, through the powers to be (see: Illuminati) that run the internet, the album was available to stream on 1 million Samsung Galaxy smartphones which then led to multiple leaks across the internet. The album itself isn’t of much concern to the sports world, except for one certain line that calls out super agent Scott Boras:
“Scott Boras, you over baby/Robinson Cano, you coming with me”
Jay-Z, who recently gave up his minority ownership in the Brooklyn Nets to become a sports agent working under the CAA agency umbrella as Roc Nation Sports, wasted no time in calling out one of the most recognizable and successful agents in the sports world. The line wasn’t just chest-thumping or wishful thinking, either; Robinson Cano was the first client Jay signed following the announcement of his agency. While in its infancy (still automatically better than Master P’s No Limit Sports Management agency attempt), the agency has managed to sign the NBA’s second best player in Kevin Durant (KD as a Knick? as a Net? Stay tuned.), NFL rookie Geno Smith and WNBA guard Skylar Diggins. That’s a pretty nice early lineup for a man who once rapped, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”
The important question for Big Blue Nation is who will be the first player to sign with Roc Nation Sports from UK? Jay-Z has long been a fan of Kentucky since Calipari arrived in town, becoming good friends with the coach and various players who come into the program. With the incoming class, there is a great opportunity for Jay-Z to make a splash and snag a couple of UK’s one and dones as they enter the league in 2014. Who wouldn’t be excited to see the Harrison Twins throwing up the Roc-A-Fella diamond alongside Jay-Z as they sign their rookie contracts? (I guess you wouldn’t care if you are a fan of country music, but holding up a 10 gallon Stetson beside George Strait just doesn’t sound as enticing). It would also be another piece of recruiting ammo in Cal’s ever-expanding artillery; come to UK, play for a title in front of 22,000 each night, get drafted AND be represented by a hip-hop legend and current face of the industry. Most of UK’s pro players are currently still in the midst of their rookie contracts or just coming out of them looking for an extension or new hefty paydays, so the likelihood of them jumping ship to Roc Nation seems less likely until it proves its worth at the negotiating table.
Speaking of the negotiating table, all of the glitz and glamour that comes with being represented by Jay-Z doesn’t matter unless he is able to secure financial stability for his clients. While Jay-Z is a worldwide star, even his own fame only goes so far; walking into a room of 40 and 50-something year olds with years of contract negotiating experience under their belts will not be easy for the newly minted agent. His success and future propensity to attract superstar clients like Cano and Durant rests squarely on his ability to negotiate responsible and beneficial contracts while opening up new avenues for his clients. Jay-Z as a sports agent speaks to the “realness” that professional athletes look for in their friends and family. He doesn’t need the money; he is your agent because he is a friend and cares about your future and because he is Jay-Z and the guy across the table isn’t and because his self proclaimed nickname Hova is short for Jehovah which translates literally to “God.” The man isn’t shy or lacking in confidence. In the coming years, it will be interesting to watch Roc Nation Sports and its attempt to pioneer a new niche where the line between entertainers and professional athletes becomes blurred. (Like Drake says, “I swear, sports and music are so synonymous/cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us.”) If successful, Jay’s client list may very well grow and grow and grow with the possible addition of a multitude of Wildcat alums. If this works out, don’t be surprised if his next album is titled Babe Ruth Michael Jordan Muhammad Ali. He’s not above it.