Jay-Z’s lifestyle site, Life and Times, launched this week with surprisingly little fanfare–though if Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” newsletter (the only other current example that leaps to mind of a top-tier star curating content in such a way, though Kanye West’s UniverseCity) is any indication, such things tend to catch fire over time. Perhaps the lack of exuberance over one of the world’s biggest and most enviably glamorous stars talking directly to his fans online is that he’s not doing the talking.
A blogger for MTV complained that the site is “not all about Jay–far from it, actually.” Indeed, “SC” or Sean Carter (Jay-Z’s real name) has but one byline on the site, a picture of clouds captioned “Peace GOD.” Inscrutable! It’s tempting to imagine that the rapper himself posts the site’s unbylined pieces, which include a video of the band Best Coast and an interview with “soccer prodigy Charles Renken,” but these are too well-tagged and search engine-optimized to be by the same author who posted a photo of pretty clouds (very first-day-of-blogging, sir!). The unsigned posts, and other, signed posts by non-Jay-Z authors, seem perfectly curated to evoke the penumbra of Jay-Z’s masculine, luxuriant hauteur. Jay-Z’s own post is the least representative of what one imagines to be Jay-Z’s interests.
Prolific writers for the site include Tamara Warren, a freelancer for publications including hip-hop magazines Giant and XXL, who writes for Life and Times about luxury goods and design; Shahendra Oneswere, senior editor at Giant, who writes here about fashion; and Benjamin Clymer, who “curate[s] monthly watch sales for the Gilt Groupe” and edits a watch-themed lifestyle site. Mr. Clymer (no points for guessing) writes for Life and Times about style and wristwear.
There are several less prolific contributors–one of whom is still in college! None of the writers contacted responded to The Observer‘s requests for comment, but the pace of the site, updated frequently at first, is slowing down (for instance, all of Mr. Ohneswere’s seven posts ran on April 4). The items, aside from “Peace GOD,” are written very straight, without apparent irony. Long-form writing here, even simply as long as a Goop-style list of commands–is unlikely–more typical is a video or image with minimal comment. Then again, did we expect more from the musician who’s not a businessman but a business, man? The rapper long ago eschewed humanity for branding. The site’s splash page–Jay-Z’s face partially obscured by tiny snapshots of covetable items–is a nice visual metaphor for the site, and for his career. Life and Times, unless the latter noun is a wristwatch pun, reveals little of either.
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