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Jay-Z Steps Up With Ad to Lift Ailing Rocawear Clothing (watch!)

Jay-Z, Rocawear

Jay-Z in a Rocawear print ad.

Jay-Z is stepping up and putting his personal reputation on the line to bolster troubled clothing line Rocawear. A new ad ties the clothes closely to his own success and rise from poverty.

Rocawear hit the skids last year, as global sales fell by $500 million, forcing his flagship Manhattan store to lay off half its 56 employees among other belt-tightening steps.

The recession certainly didn’t help, but the decline may also be tied to a general fall in popularity for hip-hop and rap music.

In a last-ditch effort to revive the brand, Jay-Z is personally offered to do commercial for the line.

A study by Harvard Business School found that hip-hop record sales skidded by nearly 20 percent between 2007 and 2008 when the financial crisis hit, leading all other genres. Between 2008 and 2009, the top 20 earners saw their incomes decline by 40 percent from the previous year, according to the study.

In a bid to pump up sales Rocawear tried to cash in on the Occupy Wall Street movement with “Occupy All Streets” t-shirts, without cutting in the Occupy Wall St. movement. The shirts were pulled after an uproar.

The black and white spot titled “From Marcy to Madison Square,” was announced in February in Women’s Wear Daily. The spot tracks the mogul’s career from Brooklyn’s projects to New York’s most venerable concert venue.

In 2007, Jay-Z sold the rights to the brand, which he cofounded with Damon Dash, for $204 million in cash to the Iconix Brand Group. He’d previously bought out Dash’s interest for $30 million.

As part of the deal, Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, kept his stake in the Rocawear operating company, which manufactures Rocawear’s clothing for men. He will also agreed to head up product development, marketing and licensing, according to The New York Times.

The acquisition was lauded at the time on Wall Street, but in hindsight it could come up a cropper, if Jay-Z can’t turn it around.

According to The New York Post, Jay-Z’s contractual obligations to the brand have expired and he no longer needs or wishes to promote it. “Jay-Z doesn’t do anything without getting paid a lot of money — a lot more than Rocawear is generating,” a source said in January.

Yet, here he is hawking the clothes once again. Check out the video below.

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