The great poet Kenneth Rogers once said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/And know when to run/You never count your money/When you’re sittin’ at the table/There’ll be time enough for countin’/When the dealin’s done…”
And that is exactly what Jay-Z is doing. Counting that money…
The billionaire boy from Brooklyn has just announced he sold half of his high-end champagne company Armand de Brignac aka Ace of Spades to Moët Hennessy LVMH’s wine and spirits division, believing that the company will take the brand to “the next level of taste and distribution.”
His history with Ace of Spades has been a progressive gold mind. In 2006, he initially bought a 50% stake in the brand and became the sole owner in 2014.
This happened right around the time that Jay called for a boycott of another champagne brand, Cristal, for statements made by the parent company’s managing director Frédéric Rouzaud.
Back then, he told a special edition of The Economist they viewed rap’s infatuation with Cristal ‘with curiosity and serenity.’
Then Rouzaud snarkily said when asked if Hip-Hop’s connection with the brand will harm it, “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
Back then the Roc-Nation head honcho and owner of the successful 40/40 sports club franchise resolved, “It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frédéric Rouzaud, views the ‘Hip-Hop’ culture as ‘unwelcome attention.’ I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands, including the 40/40 Club, nor in my personal life.”
And the Black businessman turned this complaint into an empire — bet you Cristal is hanging their heads in disgust now.
About his new deal with Moët Hennessy, he went on to say, “We want the brand to outlast all of us… We don’t cut corners or lean on fame to sell the product. We’ve built it through passion and integrity.”
The brand probably will if Moët Hennessy’s chief executive Philippe Schaus has something to do with it.
The company is simply forward-thinking, growing with interesting campaigns like they’ve done over the last few years.
Consider the exciting brand partnerships that they have facilitated in the Hip-Hop sphere with artists like Nas and ASAP Ferg. One might point to the chess tournament they did in 2020 with WuTang member, the GZA, or their NBA partnership as an extraordinary effort to engage the Hip-Hop community.
Moët Hennessy has taken a step further, not only working with rappers but putting up money to support the communities that have kept them popping in these streets. Just last year, they pledged to give at least $250K to support Black, Asian and Latinx small businesses through their Unfinished Business Initiative — and have graduated three cohorts in their Hennessy Fellows initiative with HBCUs.
Even a few weeks ago, during the Asian Lunar New Year, Hennessy X.O hosted the X.O OX Experience with Henry Golding, Eddie Huang, AtomicMari, Jay Park, Dumbfoundead, MILCK, and the Kinjaz to celebrate the Year of the OX. They simply are tapped in.
The partnership makes sense considering how involved Mr. Carter is with social justice, diversity & inclusion, and connecting that to straight-up luxury lifestyle brands.
Schaus also noted that the company as a whole has the chops to expand the “in the coming years, we can increase the volumes given Moët Hennessy’s 1,600 hectares of vineyards to supply grapes in the Champagne region.”
Take that muscle and mix it with Jay’s celebrity and cool factor, how he came into the champagne space almost 20 years ago and basically “disrupted” the industry by opening up his fanbase “to a new market,” and both of the company’s commitment to the people of color (including hiring Jasmin Allen, as the SVP of Hennessy USA), and one can see that this really seems to be a brand made in heaven.