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Jay-Z Announces New, Samsung-Sponsored Album via 3-Minute Spot

This three-minute Samsung spot played during halftime of the NBA Finals last night, and it ran before my YouTube videos this morning. It’s Jay-Z, playing with sweet beats, so of course I didn’t click “SKIP AD.” You better not either, because at 1:20 you’re going to bob your head emphatically as Jay and his team recreate the sound of the speakers blowing out. If you skip the ad, you’ll also miss Pharrell’s face, looking incredulous and smiley as he assists Jay’s genius. You’ll miss uber-producer Rick Rubin hanging out on the couch barefoot.

Just as we were getting worked up over Yeezus, HOV comes through with Magna Carta Holy Grail and perhaps the greatest (or at least highest-profile) marketing coup in Samsung’s history. On July 4, the first million Samsung Galaxy users to download a customized app will receive the album for free. Three days later, other drabby people–i.e. iPhone users–get access. It’s a tantalizing prospect, and one that depends on avoiding the lately inevitable leak. Or maybe not–if the app’s “personalized stories and inspiration” really consist of never-before-seen content, then it’s an asset even if (when) the music sweeps the Internet in advance.

Shortform Blog said it best: “If you’re gonna sell out, sell out with more planning and better savvy than everyone else, so it doesn’t look like selling out.” Look here for a prime example. In this spot, we’re privy to an intimate gathering of rapper royalty. The one clip of a tablet isn’t force fed product placement–we’re getting a sneak peek at HOV’s secret diary. It feels exclusive and casual. No one is putting on a show; this day in the studio with these people is enough of a crazy fantasy. And the music! Until the album comes out, I’ll be listening to the beats of this ad on repeat.


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