Updates on Jay Z, Gwyneth Paltrow, Starbucks, and Legal Weed

I wanted to bring you a few updates on recent Billfold stories:

First, Gwyneth Paltrow was unable to complete her SNAP Challenge. This fits right in to the “celebrity food stamp challenge narrative” that I predicted would happen, and gives us the scene where the celebrity realizes just how hard it is to stretch a limited food budget into multiple meals. As Paltrow wrote on GOOP:

As I suspected, we only made it through about four days, when I personally broke and had some chicken and fresh vegetables (and in full transparency, half a bag of black licorice). My perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days — a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day, week, and year. A few takeaways from the week were that vegetarian staples liked dried beans and rice go a long way — and we were able to come up with a few recipes on a super tight budget.

This paragraph manages to encompass both the “celebrity discovers how hard it is” and “celebrity discovers beans and rice” tropes. Well done, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Second, Jay Z’s music service Tidal is going through waves of change. Tidal, which launched at the beginning of April, just lost its CEO, Andy Chen. Peter Tonstad is serving as interim CEO. Tidal also laid off a number of its employees, and I chose “a number” because various sources are reporting anything from “twenty-five” to “a handful.” (It could be a really big hand.)

Rolling Stone puts the transition into perspective:

Aspiro hired Chen prior to Jay Z’s acquisition of the company, so it wasn’t unexpected that the rapper would prefer to put his stamp on Tidal by hiring his own executives. “Tonstad has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo,” a Tidal rep said in a statement. “He’s streamlining resources to ensure talent is maximized to enhance the customer experience. We’ve eliminated a handful of positions and refocused our company-wide talent to address departments that need support and cut redundancies.”

This streamlining also means that Jay Z is taking on some of the customer service responsibilities himself; as Business Insider reported, he is “personally calling people who use the site.” Billboard adds:

In addition to Jay, other musicians associated with Tidal, including Jack White, have also been making calls. The musicians have been gaining access to their fans’ contact information via their own Tidal accounts where they can monitor who has been listening to their music and get the stats on their albums.

No word on what these conversations are about, unfortunately. I’d love to read a fan report. In fact, I’m a little surprised we haven’t seen any “Jay Z called me” stories going around. Surely someone would have put that on Tumblr.

Today is 4/20, so it’s time for some legal weed news: Colorado, which earlier this year forbid Girl Scouts from selling cookies outside its legal marijuana dispensaries, is featured in a new NBC report titled “Capitalizing on Cannabis: Meet Colorado’s Black ‘Potpreneurs.’”

Black Americans are disproportionately arrested for drug-related offenses — the ACLU states that “Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession” — but Colorado is providing opportunities for people to build businesses instead. As Duncan Cameron, Chief Production Officer at the Good Chemistry Dispensary, told NBC:

All business-minded African Americans should be lined up trying to search for ways to break in, Cameron insists. “You only get so many opportunities to get in on the ground floor of a market like this,” he says. “Anybody with any interest and ambition should be trying to get into this industry. The opportunities truly are endless.”

Lastly, my favorite coffee chain Starbucks, last seen putting its foot in its mouth about race relations, is now hoping to capitalize on Mother’s Day by selling its “first ever metal & ceramic Starbucks Card.”

The card, which you can buy here, will cost you $200 — but it only comes with a $50 value. It is, assumedly, reloadable, and because it’s metal and ceramic it is designed to last longer than the standard Starbucks Card — although my Starbucks Card has held up for years without any issues — and it is a way to show your mother how much you care about her while also showing how little you value your own money.

“For Mother’s Day, give her beautiful flowers — the ones etched into this elegant and exclusive Starbucks Card,” Starbucks writes. I don’t know about you, but my mom would not be happy if I gave her a $200 card with a $50 value.

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