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SEC deposes Jay Z on the sale of Rocawear: Other difficult business dealings emerge

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“Hard Knock Life” rapper, Jay Z once said in a verse, “I’m a business man.” Now the artist must show how business savvy he can be in SEC deposition and navigating a streaming service set up to empower artists.

On Tuesday, hip hop iconic emcee and Brooklyn-born businessman, Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter, spent the afternoon at the Manhattan offices of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in Manhattan answering questions about his 2007 dealings with the assets of Rocawear apparel brand.

A federal judge ordered Carter to give a deposition after failing to respond to two SEC subpoenas served on November 2017 and this past February.

During the deposition, Carter spoke about the sale of Rocawear to Iconix Brand Group Inc. that went for $204 million. The SEC  wanted to know about his personal involvement of the matter.

According to All Hip Hop, Jay Z purchased Rocawear from his former business associate, Dame Dash for $22 million in 2005, after they severed ties to one of the most prominent hip hop brand labels. In 1999, Rocawear was valued at $500 million. In a 2005 interview with All Hip Hop, Dash said,  “Rocawear was my point of view, a Harlem swagger. They gave me $30 million and 75% of Team Roc. I’m real happy with the deal.”

Jay Z’s deposition lasted the day.

An unwanted Tidal wave

As he faces SEC scrutiny, last week, Carter’s streaming service, Tidal was accused of inflating streaming numbers. In a story by Variety, they learned through an investigation conducted by, Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian news agency, that Tidal is accused of manipulating the streams of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo,” to increase their royalties at the expense of other artists.

Tidal is a subscription-based music streaming service created with the concept that the artists would have equity and ownership. Jay Z, is the major stakeholder with is wife, Beyonce, and collective of other artists own shares including, Kanye West, Madonna, Nikki Minaj, Daft Punk and Rihanna.

In 2015, Jay Z bought Tidal from parent company Aspiro then in March 2016, he sued the Norwegian company for underreporting subscribers that led to reduced report of the proft. Last January, Sprint purchased 33% of shares, and Jay Z continues to compete with other major services such as Spotify and Pandora.

At press time, it is unclear if Dagens Næringsliv and Aspiro have any ties.

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