Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z and his megastar wife Beyoncé are probably the biggest musical power couple in the world. Together, they’re worth $1.35 billion, and they’ve created an empire stemming from their combined music that has touched the lives of millions. Jay-Z has an estimated net worth of $1 billion alone, making him the first true billionaire rapper, and most of his wealth comes from his entertainment company, Roc Nation.
Together, the two have created an impenetrable brand together that will feed their children for the next 20 generations, probably. They can do no wrong musically, and both Beyoncé and Jay-Z have a fanbase that is more rabid than any other stars'.
Working with them is a tough gig, though. It’s hard work, but pretty much everyone says it’s worth it. They’re like a king and queen, and when you’ve reached the royal court, all you want to do is stay there.
18 Jay-Z Watches Every YouTube Rapper
Beyoncé’s very rich and very successful significant other, Jay-Z, has completely different processes when it comes to working with others. Young Guru is the man who holds the key to Jay-Z’s music— he’s been Jay’s engineer for years, and is the only man he trusts completely. Gu told Complex that “Jay watches these dudes freestyle on YouTube. Like, if you’re a battle MC from Philly, you may not have been in a battle… Jay watches those religiously. It’s just the weirdest thing in the world.”
17 Jay-Z Trusts Only One Person To Oversee His Music
Young Guru is the only man that Jay-Z trusts with his music in the entire world— and that’s a billion-dollar enterprise and a full-time job. “My job extends beyond normal engineering because once Jay got comfortable with me, it was more than ‘Record and mix my albums.’ It became ‘Oversee my music.’ That means, I hold it all.” He also doesn’t want any of his music on other drives but Guru’s hard drive.
16 Jay Has A Thing, He’ll Text Or Email: “Stay Close”
Another interesting thing about Jay-Z is that he’ll tell people to “Stay Close” when he’s serious about a project. He’s always moving all over the world, and Dre said, “You have to be right beside him. Jay has this thing, he’ll text or email: ‘Stay Close.’ That’s advice you have to take literally. He’ll record in two weeks and the album is done.”
15 Collaborating With Bey Is Like “Writing Camp”
Sia is a songwriter who’s written for Rihanna, Katy Perry, Adele, Beyoncé, and many more. She’s a successful performing artist in her own right, but she says that collaborating with different artists is always, well, different. Sia told Rolling Stone that collaborating with Bey is like “writing camp, essentially. She flies us all in and puts us all up. We all live in a house together— like five producers and five topline writers.” Bey “visits each room and will contribute and let us know what she’s feeling… lyrically, melodically, anything.”
14 He Likes Basketball But Doesn’t Take His Game Seriously
Working with Jay-Z also means playing with Jay-Z, and the man likes to ball. He had Kanye West over one time, with Young Guru (who used to play B-Ball in college), and he takes it more seriously than Jay-Z does. “Jay is absolutely nice at ball. He’s got a nice 12-foot jumper. He knows the game. He’s smart about the game. For Kanye and them it’s more exercise; they’re not ballers… That game was more about getting together and brotherhood thing.”
13 “She’s Very Frankenstein When She Comes To Songs”
Sia also said that Beyoncé is different in that she doesn’t work in one big group session, like some songwriters. “She’s very Frankenstein when she comes to songs,” Sia said. “She’ll say, ‘I like the verse from that. I like the pre-chorus from that. Can you try mixing it with that?’” On Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album which dropped without any marketing or hype, Sia wrote 25 songs for consideration, and only one made it on the record: “Pretty Hurts.”
12 Jay-Z Doesn’t Lust For The Limelight
Another trait of Jay-Z’s (and Beyoncé’s) is that they don’t “lust for the limelight,” as Young Guru put it. He doesn’t care about “all this nonsense of having to leave restaurants at a different time than [Beyoncé] because [the paparazzi] get more money if they snap both of them together. He just wants to go and eat but he’s gotta think about dumb **** like that now. They can’t walk out the restaurant together. How dumb is that? But it’s reality.”
11 Working As Beyoncé’s Assistant Is A “Choose Your Own Adventure”
A Beyoncé superfan became her assistant for a day, and said the “choose your own adventure” style of working as Beyoncé’s assistant was a triumph of humanity. Other Twitter users have pretended to be Beyoncé’s assistant and tried to get Bey suited and booted for awards ceremonies, shows, etc., completing tasks and trying to find the best solutions. The object of the game is to not get fired!
10 It’s A Gig “To Take Care Of Jay-Z’s Musical World”
“If it leaks, it’s on me,” Young Guru told Complex.com. “For Jay, it’s safer to have me as his central base versus it being scattered all over the world.” That includes whether he’s mixing something or not. “That all falls into my responsibility. It’s gone beyond the normal thing. It’s become a gig to take care of Jay-Z’s musical world.” That sounds like a ton of pressure for Young Guru, but also a ton of trust on Jay-Z’s part.
9 Beyoncé’s “A Perfectionist” Says Lion King Songwriter
British singer-songwriter-producer Labrinth has worked a lot with Beyoncé, but most recently on The Lion King (live-action) soundtrack. About her, he said, “She’s a perfectionist and she’s a Virgo, like my wife. Virgos are serious performers.” Well, we all know Bey is a serious performer, so there’s no doubting that. For their single, “Spirit,” he added, “I was like, ‘I know what I’m in for and I like that.’” (via Associated Press.)
8 When People Complain About Jay, It’s Because He Didn’t Do Something For Them
Jaz-O is best known as the mentor of Jay-Z, and Young Guru says about him, “If you ever notice, when people complain about Jay they never say, ‘He did something to me.’ They always say what he didn’t do for them.” In this case, it was Jay-Z offering Jaz-O a $300,000 record contract, to which Jaz brushed him off and basically laughed at it, thinking it wasn’t enough. “So Jaz went to a major company. It’s not Jay’s fault,” though it might seem that way.
7 Beyoncé “Cares About Everything That’s In The Record”
Labrinth added more to his statement about making The Lion King soundtrack with Beyoncé (who voiced Nala) and co-writer Ilya Salmanzadeh. “She cared about everything that was in the record. She cared about what piano we were going to use. Is there enough bass? Not many artists care that much. Also, just the way she treated us as well. A lot of artists in her position, they can be divas and they can be hard to deal with. Her energy and the messages she sent us… she sent really beautiful messages.” (via Associated Press.)
6 He Memorizes Everything And Does It All In One Take
Young Guru said that “Jay memorizes his raps before he gets in the booth. That’s all it is… he memorizes and says the rap 50,000 times before he even thinks about stepping into the booth.” This is so he doesn’t waste time (which is a good lesson for less-wealthy musicians: don’t write in the studio, you’re there to record). “It saves so much time. It’s all about memorizing your raps,” Guru says.
5 Beyoncé’s Dancers Are Very Loyal To Her
In a long interview with Refinery29, head dancer for the Beyhive, Ashley Everett, had a lot of nice things to say about her boss. They’ve been working together for years, so it’s to be expected. When asked how she handles when she has a big secret and can’t tell anyone, she said, “We don’t spill tea and secrets because we’re very loyal to her, and I think she sees that.”
4 He Critiques Himself More Than Any Regular MC
“He writes and critiques his records more than any other MC that I’ve ever seen, and he goes line for line,” Young Guru says. “Is this too complicated or not complicated enough? Am I over-rapping it? Am I not giving them enough tricks?” He repeats his raps and records to himself thousands of times, so “When he taps you and goes, ‘Yo, I’m ready,’ he’s really ready.”
3 Sometimes She’s Just A Director
Everett added that “Lemonade” was the most secret project during her tenure, and that many of the dancers filmed video without any music at all—moving to the beats with no vocals, or morphed versions of the song. This was to keep things secretive, so they wouldn’t leak. She said, “Sometimes there was simply no music at all, just direction. ‘Be serious!’ or ‘Intense and angry!’” are two that Everett remembered.
2 Her Dancers Burst With Admiration And Gratitude Around Her
Many of Beyoncé’s dancers have been with her for years, and they rarely move on. The turnover rate is not high— you’ve pretty much hit the high watermark in your dancing career when you’re backing up Queen Bey. In the interview, writer Arianna Davis said, “Any time her job or boss comes up, the tone of Everett’s voice deepens a bit and her eyes widen, as if she’s bursting with admiration and gratitude.” Everett added that this is true, that you never really stop being in awe of her, even after so many years.
1 “Working With Them Two Is Like Working With The Golden State Warriors”
In 2018, veteran duo Cool & Dre, who have worked with everyone under the stars, finally produced songs for Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s album, "Everything Is Love." Dre said of them, “We always joke with Jay: Working with them two is like working with the Golden State Warriors. We can just dribble the ball up the floor and look like geniuses.” That is to say, it’s not hard to have a hit on your hands when you’re in the presence of like-minded greatness.
Sources: rollingstone.com, complex.com, refinery29.com, abc3340.com