Four years after he helped Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter launch his Roc Nation imprint, president Jay Brown, 38, is still hungry for success. Alongside Jay-Z, John Meneilly and Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith, Brown has built a tiered company with branches in management, touring and publishing for a roster that includes Jay-Z, J. Cole and Rita Ora.
Even though Roc Nation partnered with electronic dance music management company Three Six Zero Group and established the StarRoc label with production duo Stargate, the former senior VP of A&R at Def Jam still doesn't feel like he's made it yet. "That's why I keep working as hard as I do," says Brown, who started out as a music publisher at Quincy Jones Music Publishing/Qwest Records. "Once I start thinking that I made it, I'm going to put up a ceiling and can't get no higher."
Recent signees to the management division include M.I.A. and Meek Mill. There also are rumblings of a new album by Jay-Z and a sequel to his and Kanye West's Watch the Throne. For Brown, it's not about learning on the job but rather from other executives. "We grew up looking up to people like Berry Gordy, Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen and watching those guys do what they were doing," he says. "We're respectfully moving through their footprints."