Jay Z and Justin Timberlake are so rich that their butlers have butlers, their maids have maids, and their cars have cars.
They're so rich that bankers in parking lots fight each other to the death in a circle of fire trying to secure their investments. They're so rich that their money actually laughs at you on the way to work. And they're each making over a million bucks a show on the Legends of Summer tour. Here's a good idea how these two classics got to this point.
The Early Years
Jay Z was born and raised in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects. He formed a bond with an older rapper named Jaz O who had a record deal; and they collaborated on a song and video for his track "Hawaiian Sophie." Jaz O took young Shawn with him to London for a promotion in 1988, for which the kid was paid a small per diem. After the trip, Jay Z took his earnings back to New York City, flipped them through drug sales, and funded himself for the rest of his life.
Justin Timberlake was born in Memphis, and raised in a small town called Shelby Forest. His parents broke up when he was three years old, and each of them remarried. At age 11, Timberlake performed a country music routine on television's Star Search as Justin Randall. He lost to a girl.
Within a couple of years, he joined the cast of The New Mickey Mouse Club, and made friends with a couple of cute blondes named Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
In 1999, at an NYC listening party for Q-Tip's solo album Amplified, the already Grammy winning Jay Z stabbed record producer Lance "Un" Rivera in a rage that some attribute to an early album leak, and others say is related to a love feud. Jay Z denied all charges when arrested, but later received 3 years probation, and according to the Associated Press, mumbled "I stabbed Lance Rivera" as he pled guilty.
Rivera was a close associate of Biggie Smalls and discovered rapper Cam'ron. Jay Z and Rivera settled out of court on civil charges at a cost of between $600,000, and $1 million, to Shawn Carter.
In 1995, Justin Timberlake's work for Disney caught the eye of boy band impresario Lou Pearlman, who'd scored millions on creating the Backstreet Boys. Pearlman formed a new band with Timberlake and four others, calling the group 'N Sync. He moved them to an Orlando compound where they worked on dance moves and harmonies. Then he got them a European record deal.
All the while, Pearlman was also a ponzi schemer bilking hundreds of millions of dollars from investors he lied to. 'N Sync sold millions quickly, and Pearlman allegedly defrauded them for 50 percent of the profits. Timberlake has called it "financial rape." Pearlman is currently incarcerated on a 25 year prison sentence.
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Deep in the lush subtropics of his Pinecrest mansion, Timothy Zachery Mosely bench presses tractor trailers, drinks protein shakes, and writes new symphonies in his head. The musclebound super producer better known as Timbaland is as much a reason for Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's successes as the artists are themselves. He's the man behind the boards on Hova's "Hard Knock Life," and "Big Pimpin'," and JT's "Cry Me A River," and "Sexy Back." He's also the driving force behind their digitally pioneering new projects, "Magna Carta Holy Grail," and "The 20/20 Experience."
Without Timbaland, Jay Z and Timberlake still have all the drive, determination, and ambition it takes to be successful, but they don't have the one thing that money can't buy: hit records. Of course, adding a few new zeros to Timbaland's bank statements is as good a way as any to motivate the real artist behind their sound business.
Justin Timberlake and Jay Z's Legends of the Summer Tour. Friday, August 16, at Sun Life Stadium, 2269 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $43.50 to $279 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 305-623-6100 or visit sunlifestadium.com.