“Meanwhile I had Oprah chillin’ in the projects/Had her out in Bed-Stuy, chillin’ on the steps/Drinkin’ quarter waters, I gotta be the best/M.J. at Summer Jam, Obama on the text/Y'all should be afraid of what I'm gon' do next” - Jay Z on “On to the Next One” (2009)

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You’ve heard it a million times. Well, if life is a chessboard and people are the pawns, then Jay Z is Bobby Fischer. Pop quiz: how does one man run a 500 million dollar empire with only 24 hours in the day? Answer: he doesn’t. He gets people to do it for him. The very best people, in fact. It’s the wisdom shared by Rockefeller (coincidence? no) and various business titans throughout history: you are only as smart or successful as the people you surround yourself with.

And if you flip through Jay Z’s Rolodex, you’ll surely find him in good company. Whether he is receiving a glowing endorsement from former Mayor Bloomberg, hobnobbing with Bono, or producing a movie with Will Smith, Hova knows how to form alliances with titans in every industry. The ability to socialize strategically, to exchange favors with everyone from Oprah to Obama, is arguably his greatest strength—the reason he’s been able to do in 20 years what most will never accomplish in a lifetime.

Simply put, Hova’s alliances provide him access—to money, exposure, endorsements and even more connections—all the things a formidable politician needs. Check mate.