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Cigar Culture

Jay-Z & Cigars

J. Bennett Alexander Alexander's picture

J. Bennett Alexander

Let’s be clear. Controversy and hip-hop music are often synonymous. That is true for the genre’s practitioners as well. And controversy has followed Brooklyn native Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, about as long as he’s been alive. You know him today as a music and lifestyle entrepreneur, but when he was young, his upbringing was tough.

SURVIVAL

Today, Jay-Z, 52 years of age, recognizes the damage drugs, and particularly crack, had on his community, but he explained that, at the time, “I was thinking about surviving.” His past still makes Jay-Z a target in some political discussions, but his brushes with violence and drugs throughout his youth made him a better businessman. His net worth today is estimated to be about $1.3 billion. And he’s married to Beyonce.

Jay-Z’S FAVORITE CIGAR

The music mogul is well known to enjoy larger cigars. He told Cigar Aficionado he likes Cuban cigars.

"I like Montecristos—those are probably some of my favorites," Jay-Z said. "But I like a bit of everything: Romeo y Julieta, Partagás. One of my first favorites was Dunhill, when I first started smoking them. But I go back and forth. I think it's like anything else: sure, you can find good, inexpensive cigars, but the things that are really good are the ones that cost.”

Large doesn’t mean strong.

"I like them bigger but mild,” Jay-Z explained. “It gives the appearance of smoking something heavy—but it's not. It's just relaxing. I don't know the lingo—like 'It's got an oaky flavor,' stuff like that. It's just based on what I like. No one schooled me in cigars, like no one schooled me in how to buy art or drink wine," he says, although his taste in wine is pretty exquisite, such as Sassicaia, the great Italian wine. But, he continues, "A cigar is like a gift you give yourself. I smoke at times when I'm relaxing, or celebrating."

THE COMADOR CIGAR

It seemed natural that the serial entrepreneur would make his own cigar brand. Teaming up with the non-Cuban Cohiba brand, Jay-Z launched The Comador, described as “pure luxury.” I remember smoking one or two when they were released in 2013.

The cigars were a blend of Caribbean and Central American filler tobaccos in a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and a “4-year aged Connecticut wrapper.” The flavor profile had bold notes of pepper, cocoa, and espresso. There was some sweet cream mixed in that made for a long finish. The Toro, 6 x 52, was the smallest cigar in the line and sold for around $16. A 6 x 60 Gigante, and a 7.25 x 54 Double Corona were the other vitolas. The cigar brand is no longer made.

LEARNING

Despite the troubled path he was on as a young man, Jay-Z overcame many obstacles, including arrests and stints on probation. He said he’s taken the lesson to heart.

"I'm not who I was [23] years ago," he says. "The things I did [then] are some of the stupidest things I've done."

SUCCESS

Jay-Z has sold over 125 million records and has won 23 Grammy Awards. He also co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 and clothing retailer Rocawear in 1999. He started the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club, an entertainment company, Roc Nation, and, in 2015, he acquired tech company Aspiro which hosts the media-streaming service, Tidal. In 2020, Jay-Z launched a line of cannabis products called Monogram.  

Jay-Z is successful and lucky to be so in a country where second chances are given and second acts respected. Of course, being super-wealthy helps buy respect and security. It doesn’t hurt when it comes to Jay-Z smoking great cigars either.

“You give me a great sunset, a perfect meal, a great bottle of wine,” Jay-Z, who added Davidoff Zino Platinums to his cigar repertoire, has said, “and a cigar to finish it off, and I don't have a care in the world."

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