America has often been described as a melting pot; perhaps music is our clearest representation of this today. In the trailer for Ron Howard's concert documentary, Made In America, D.M.C of Run- D.M.C. narrates, “ Pop, rock, hip-hop- all on the same stage because music succeeds where politics and religion failed… You play the guitar, he plays the drums, he uses a turntable. This wall between us doesn’t have to exist.” Maybe musicians are the last frontier of the American Dream: With a lot of hard work and luck, you can still make it big. These artists, who all perform in Made in America, exemplify that struggle.
Jay-Z is undoubtedly one of the biggest artists in hip-hop history. Furthermore, according to Forbes, he is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. Though rap is typically generalized as youth culture, there is something about Jay-Z that has helped him span his career for over twenty years: Authenticity. It’s more than his music; it’s his conduct. The underlying idea that he’s never forgotten his roots as a child growing up in the projects of Brooklyn seems to have influenced many of his business decisions. Whether it was helping to discover and sign a young singer selling clothes on the street with her father in Barbados (Rihanna), or hiring a formerly unknown wiz-kid to produce his comeback album (Kanye West), Jay-Z has made bets on longshots—like he himself once was—that have more than paid in full. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about where you come from—it’s what you bring to the table.