Jay Z Gold, the debut fragrance of rapper Shawn Carter aka Jay Z,1 launched late last year with relatively little fanfare — granted, we may never again see the sort of hoopla that surrounded the launch of Lady Gaga Fame,2 but still, I was surprised at how quiet it seemed. Then again, maybe I just missed it all, living under a rock as I do — there were reportedly tons of digital ads and outdoor billboards, and all sorts of promotional activities in New York City, including samples distributed on the street in front of Broadway theaters over Thanksgiving weekend. The president of Parlux, the holder of Jay Z's fragrance license, promised that...
We are going to make a big noise. For the 30 days before Christmas, it will be impossible not to know he has a fragrance.3
So maybe it was a bigger deal than I thought, just not in the usual venues — do tell, have you seen anything promotional for Jay Z Gold?
The scent itself is fine: not as bad as celebrity-perfume-haters might have expected, but not likely to be the next hot thing amongst perfumistas either. It's being styled as a white fougère, whatever that might be, and the opening, at least, does a reasonable job of living up to the fantasy designation: it's the basic elements of an aromatic fougère rendered creamy and smooth. Early on, it's crisp and bright (plenty of grapefruit and orange) and peppery/spicy, with the requisite touch of lavender. There are fruity undertones to add some sweetness; luckily it doesn't smell all that much like the blueberry listed in the notes (the rest of the list: ginger, cardamom, grapefruit, violet leaf, cypress, vetiver, pink pepper, amber, patchouli, teak and vanilla.) It isn't wildly unusual, but it smells nice enough, and the sillage is decent.
Gold stays creamy and spicy and lively for about an hour; after that, it's a slow fade — the far dry down is closer to a standard issue masculine amber-y woods, lightly vanillic. It's not nearly as lively as the opening, and after a couple hours, it's awfully quiet and close to the skin.
Verdict: well, as I already said above, it's fine. It's not necessarily what I'd pick to express the words etched on the cap (Power, Pride, Confidence, Strength, Success, Courage), but that's a tall order in any case. And as is true with many of its competitors on the mainstream fragrance counters, most of the fun is top-loaded — I was way more impressed with a quick spray on a blotter than I was after living with it on skin for a few days. Likewise, if you're wowed by your first encounter in-store, bear in mind that you'll probably need to reapply frequently throughout the day. I've seen Gold compared to Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb, but I don't see all that much connection and I seriously doubt that fans of that scent will find Jay Z Gold to be any sort of acceptable substitute. Notable Scents compares it to Paco Rabanne 1 Million, at least in the opening, and that seems more plausible but it's been some time since I smelled 1 Million.
Do comment if you've smelled Jay Z Gold — what did you think? Or tell us what masculine fragrance you'd pick to express Power, Pride, Confidence, Strength, Success and Courage.
Jay Z Gold was developed by perfumer Ilias Ermenidis. It is available in 30 ($39), 50 ($55) and 90 ($70) ml Eau de Toilette (18% concentration, so really an Eau de Parfum but they are calling it an Eau de Toilette because Eau de Parfum sounded too femme. Really!) and in matching grooming products. A "deluxe" 90 ml version in a "deluxe white case" is $150.
2. And on that topic, raise your hand if you're surprised we haven't seen a flanker to Fame? I know I am. I was really hoping against hope for a clear juice that sprayed black.
3. Via Women's Wear Daily, 11/1/2013.