What is power? At its base, it’s the ability to reshape the world around you according to your vision. And who in the music industry did so better in the last year than this power couple?
Leveraging their star power to release new albums in unprecedented ways—Jay Z through Samsung and Beyoncé through iTunes—they instantly changed how the industry and fans thought about interacting with music. He gave his album away; she charged a premium price for hers. But they both used the element of surprise to restore the excitement that used to accompany a new release, before that impact was dulled by the endless thunder of carefully plotted promotion.
In short, they proved that content truly is king. Or, in this case, king and queen.
For years, Jay Z has been building the most powerful artist-driven empire in music, ever since he founded Roc-a-Fella Records in 1996 to bypass a music industry uninterested in his debut album, "Reasonable Doubt." By 2004, he’d become president/CEO of Roc-a-Fella distributor Def Jam, and his concert stage would feature an Oval Office set (in a few years, his friendship with Barack Obama would get him much closer to the real thing). A major investor in Steve Stoute’s Translation Advertising, he left Def Jam and founded the multifaceted entertainment group Roc Nation in 2008, in partnership with Live Nation. The company oversees a varied roster that includes Rihanna, Shakira, Stargate, Calvin Harris, Timbaland and Deadmau5, and, in partnership with Creative Artists Agency, has added sports to its oversight. And though he’s cashed out his stake in NBA team the Brooklyn Nets, Jay Z remains an influential presence at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which he helped open in 2012 with a series of concerts.
Since parting ways with father Mathew Knowles as her longtime manager in 2011, Beyoncé has proved through her Parkwood Entertainment just how powerful—and productive—a self-managed artist can be with Beyoncé. When the album arrived just before year-end 2013, it silenced months of whispers about delays, scrapped songs and missed deadlines, and it did so with 14 critically acclaimed songs accompanied by 17 jaw-dropping videos, all meticulously curated and co-edited by Beyoncé herself.
“Artists have always had the power but courage is in short supply. It’s just that the hip-hop generation believes in the possibilities,” says Lyor Cohen (No. 74), a longtime associate of Jay Z’s from his days running Def Jam in the mid-’90s, and founder of new music venture 300. “Jay and Beyoncé don’t listen to the noise—they make the noise.”
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In just its sixth week on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" (featuring Jay Z) jumps 5-1 to mark her sixth leader on the list. She last topped the chart in 2012 when "Love on Top" reigned for seven weeks. In terms of most No. 1s by a female, Mrs. Knowles-Carter moves closer to leader Alicia Keys, who's taken eight titles to the top.
Here is a look at the female artists with the most No. 1s in the Nielsen BDS-based R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart's nearly 22-year history:
8, Alicia Keys
4, Erykah Badu
4, Mariah Carey
Aside from moving Beyoncé up the all-time list, "Drunk in Love" also becomes the fastest-rising chart leader in nearly five years. The last song to hit No. 1 in six weeks or fewer was Jamie Foxx's "Blame It," featuring T-Pain, which took six weeks to reach the summit and went on to spend 14 weeks on top in 2009. Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" (nine No. 1 weeks, 2006) and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" (12 No. 1 weeks, 2008) both also shot up the survey, reaching the summit in five and six weeks, respectively.
As if her return to chart dominance weren't evident enough, Beyoncé rules Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with her self-titled release for a sixth consecutive week (61,000 copies, down 22%, according to Nielsen SoundScan), marking the longest No. 1 run in her 10-year solo chart career. Her debut apart from Destiny's Child, "Dangerously in Love," led for one week in 2003; "B'Day" and "I Am… Sasha Fierce" each ruled for two weeks in 2006 and 2008, respectively; and "4" managed five weeks at No. 1 in 2011.
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The Power 100 list is interesting because I believe they're the only ones on the list who are performers as well as involved in management. Also I see you, Gorlplz, callin' in those Alicia radio requests.