Money Ain’t a Thang

“‘Nuff dollars makes sense.”
-Jay-Z (Dead Presidents)

AS THE DOLLAR CONTINUES TO LOSE FAVOR around the world, we may have seen the biggest decline in the popularity of the once universal currency. As reported in several different news publications over the past few weeks, rap star Jay-Z has recently showed fans that he no longer believes in the almighty dollar, either.

In the video for “Blue Magic,” the lead single off his new album, American Gangster, Jay-Z is seen thumbing through stacks of 500-euro notes. That’s what it has now come to — euros are cool; dollars are not. Jay-Z told us so, and now we must listen.

It didn’t take long for the dollar’s slide to reach the level of pop culture. But just as foreign governments and high-powered investors have turned their attention away from the dollar, so too has this powerful rap mogul told the world that the real money is the euro. Remember, hip-hop had previously told us that it was “all about the Benjamins.”

Jay-Z does not specifically come out and denounce the dollar in the lyrics of the song, but the imagery cannot be coincidence. Unlike some other videos Jay-Z has come out with in the past, showing him in exotic locales flaunting the native flair, this video takes place in the heart of Manhattan. American dollars are still the unit of exchange in New York, but you wouldn’t know that from this video. It is there that the superstar, who has made himself plenty of dollars over the past decade, shows the world that he now has no need for them.

If you think that Jay-Z’s endorsement of the euro over the dollar should have no serious effect on the world, think again. Jay-Z, as well as other rap stars, has shown that his influence can be very important when it comes to the popularity of one particular product. This is also true outside of the hip-hop community, as it has recently bled into other products.

Beginning with his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z has boasted about his affinity for the expensive, luxurious Cristal brand of champagne. Cristal, a product of Louis Roederer Champagne, has existed since the time of Alexander II of Russia. The champagne has always been considered a high-end luxury. It was not, however, until rap stars, led by Jay-Z, began endorsing the bubbly relentlessly that it became a household name. This happened until last year, when the managing director of the company, Frederic Rouzaud made remarks in an interview that Jay-Z believed to be racist. Rouzaud came across as suggesting that the attention his successful product has received from the hip-hop community was unwanted.

Jay-Z, who is not only a rapper but also a successful nightclub owner, decided to launch a boycott of the champagne he once adored. Six months later, in the video for his first new single in three years, “Show Me What You Got,” we see Jay-Z with a gold bottle of champagne that is anything but Cristal. The bottle he now seemed to be endorsing was Armand de Brignac. This champagne, also referred to as “Ace of Spades,” due to the logo on the bottle, was previously an almost unheard-of commodity.

“H-O-V-A/Gold bottles of that Ace of Spades,” the rapper exclaims in the song’s lyrics.

That quote, along with his physical endorsement of the product in the video prompted Armand de Brignac to launch an official Web site and gladly take credit for the champagne that has now been embraced by the hip-hop community. The sales of Ace of Spades following Jay-Z’s endorsement went from 6,000 bottles annually to an estimated 200,000 bottles. That shows the amazing power that one influential man can have.

Does this mean that millions of American kids who idolize Jay-Z will now be asking that Abercrombie & Fitch pay them in euros instead of dollars? Probably not. But it does show the remarkable way that the world operates out of trends. We’ve already heard the stories about Gisele Bundchen requesting to be paid in euros, or Bette Midler being paid in South African gold coins in the 1970s. What’s next?

Many savvy investors have already turned to investing in other foreign currencies and taking their money out of the dollar. Even billionaire Warren Buffett has advised investing in companies that pay in foreign currencies. As Jay-Z influences people on how to dress and what to drink, Warren Buffett is the trendsetter on how to invest wisely and make money.

People may not want to take advice from Jay-Z on how to plan their retirement, but his willingness to show the euro as a currency associated with wealth and prestige may be a sign of things to come. Since the beginning of this year the dollar has been living a hard-knock life, while the euro appears to be big pimpin’.

Until next time,
Jamie Ellis

November 28, 2007