JAY-Z & Diddy Built Empires. Now They Aim To Help Other Black Businesses Grow

JAY-Z and Diddy are two pillars of Black Excellence. These men have built empires that began with music careers, then expanded to record labels, and have extended into apparel, liquor, film, sports, TV, and a host of other ventures at the highest level. Since the ’90s, these two men often pause to make moves together, even as they battle it out every year on the Forbes‘ lists. In a recent GQ cover story, Puffy revealed that he’s teaming up with Hov’ to help other Black entrepreneurs. Together, Jay and Puff’ plan to develop an app that will help people find Black-owned business closest to their current location.

Financial wealth and independence is one way many sociologists believe Black Americans (and those interested in helping change with them) can best serve the interests of their communities. The two moguls apparently want to make that financial power the biggest reality to date. “This is not about taking away from any other community,” Diddy told GQ. “We’ll still go to Chinatown. We’ll still buy Gucci!” He continued before laughing. “But the application will make it possible for us to have an economic community. It’s about Blacks gaining economic power.”

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A name, release date, or a lot of the specific details about the app haven’t been made public.

The news comes just a day after it was confirmed that Jay and Roc Nation were investing $3 million in a startup company named Promise. Promise’s goal is to be an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders and will give government agencies support to those already in custody or on some form of probation or parole.

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Promise also hopes to assist those who can’t afford bail by aiding in the pretrial process. Those who have the app on their phone will receive an intelligent calendar informing them of court appearances, drug testing, substance abuse treatment and anything else related as well as assistance in housing, counseling, and job training. “We are increasingly alarmed by the injustice in our criminal justice system, Money, time and lives are wasted with the current policies,” Hov said of his recent investment in the company. “It’s time for an innovative and progressive technology that offers sustainable solutions to tough problems. Promise’s team, led by [Promise CEO and founder Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins], is building an app that can help provide ‘liberty and justice for all’ to millions.”

Jay has been a strong advocate against the prison industry. Last year, he and Roc Nation bailed many fathers who could not otherwise afford it out of incarceration for Father’s Day. He also wrote an October op-ed for The New York Times condemning the way the criminal justice system “stalks Black People.” At the time, JAY-Z stated that he became “obsessed” by this fact while acting as producer for the docu-series, Time: The Kalief Browder Story. At the age of 16, Kalief Browder was jailed for three years at Rikers Island, without trial, for allegedly stealing a backpack. Most of the time, Browder was held in solitary confinement. Post-release, Browder committed suicide.

This isn’t the first time the duo of friends has collaborated on something aside from music. Last year, the two released a documentary celebrating Black success called Black Excellence A Short Film: What’s Better Than One Billionaire? Two.

Speaking of financial success, Jay-Z and Diddy were recently named #1 and #2 on Forbes’ wealthiest Hip Hop list. Hov reportedly upped his net worth from $810 million to $900 million this past year. Roc Nation, Tidal, and D’Ussé and Armand de Brignac are just a few of his brands raking in the dough. He also put out music and toured. What is not completely clear is how it was enough to top Puff, who’s held the wealthiest crown five times. Holding the second spot, The Bad Boy Records founder went from a reported $820 million in 2017 to $825 million.