During the fall of 2006, Beyoncé released a new single entitled “Ring The Alarm” that would prove to be a fan favorite and was seemingly charting an expressive and bold new path in her musical career. “Ring The Alarm” was the second release from Beyoncé’s solo sophomore LP B’Day. As Beyoncé sang, “Ring the alarm, I been through this too long/ But I’ll be damned if I see another chick on your arm” during an electrifying performance at the 2006 VMA’s, the audience erupted as Queen Bey put on a riveting performance of the hit song. The single would prove to be a fan favorite, mark a pivotal point in the career of the Houston native, debut as her highest U.S. release (at the current time), and bring about an anticipated controversy amidst vicious rumors of trouble in paradise through her relationship with Hip Hop mogul Jay Z. Though Beyoncé has since refuted the allegations, the song’s edgy and in your face lyrics were still rumored to be subliminal shots at Barbadian recording artist Rihanna. But, could it be that everyone’s fave Barbadian pop star did the unthinkable? The widely publicized issue would leave fans and media at odds over the divisive the issue. Where did it start? Where were the photos, screenshots and archived text receipts? The rumor were such a hot topic despite the lack of evidence or exercise in due diligence. Thus, one of the most highly publicized and alleged rumors lasted for years. That is until now. Amidst a new unauthorized tell-all book said to be very transparent and revealing, Jonathan Hay former publicist for Rihanna decided to provide clarity on the matter by apologizing for the unintentional faux pas he created. Setting the record straight once and for all, DX Spoke with Hay to get clarity on what took place besides moving forward from such a controversial public item.
Hay Explains Leaking The False Narrative
DX: Let’s start from the beginning. What happened?
Jonathan Hay: I was out in Orlando, Florida in late 2004 searching for my birth parents because I was adopted. I was introduced to Vada Nobles who was in the same area. He was the co-producer of Rihanna’s debut single. I met him at Starbucks in the Phillips Landing area of Orlando. I remember the first thing he said to me was that he had a 16-year-old from Barbados that looked like Beyoncé and he was producing her first single. Somewhere, I still have her first promo photos (they aren’t online anywhere) where someone intentionally made her resemble Beyoncé a little bit. Rihanna was just an unknown artist at the time. But, she was signed to Def Jam, and Jay Z had just become the President of Def Jam so I figured it would be an easy project to do. Plus, we had lined up Elephant Man for the remix already so I was pretty confident that we would get some press, which was all I was there to do. I wrote Rihanna’s first press release and broke the news of her single in March of 2005. I think she had just turned 17 a month earlier. Jennifer Vineyard was the first one to break the news on Rihanna through MTV News. The first press release was about Rihanna and her signing with Jay Z, Def Jam, and the infamous bidding war that also included L.A Reid. As far as Jay Z goes, I first spoke with Jay through Amil, the female rapper who has some major hits with Jay.
DX: At the time did you consider what would happen if the rumor escalated as it did?
Jonathan Hay: Which time are you referring to… in 2005… or now in 2015?
Jonathan Hay: In 2005 the rumor was just a pitch and a rumor to try and get people talking about Rihanna. It was never intended to be a big ordeal, it was just intended to get people asking, “Who’s Rihanna?” It was just gossip. If anything, I thought that it might trigger some interest about this new artist, just enough to give her single a boost and then the rumor would quickly dissipate. I never imagined 10 years later that it would be added to a Beyoncé book that is going to be a New York Times Bestseller. It was never meant to be malicious. To be honest, I was smoking pot and the zany idea just popped into my head and I was like, “Yeah, dude. That might work.” It was like a total Seth Rogan scene out of a movie. It seemed like the greatest idea in the world when I was high and I wasn’t really thinking about any of the details.
DX: What was your plan of contingency?
Jonathan Hay: I didn’t think that far ahead. I wanted a hit record. I went all out by any means necessary — not by some means but any means. I was a lot different back then than I am now. I would just ‘shoot from the hip’ a lot. So back then I’m sure I didn’t think about a contingency plan. My main focus during that time was trying to find my birth parents.
DX: Did it feel at all awkward having to handle your own crisis intervention being that you wouldn’t normally be in the hot seat?
Jonathan Hay: I don’t think of this as necessarily a crisis. A crisis to me is what’s going in third world countries. The wars that are going on in the world in the name of religion deserve the term ‘crisis’, in my opinion. A crisis is not knowing who your birth parents are or where you come from, and when you are finally reunited with your birth mother, you learn that she is an Army veteran who is fighting for her life, does dialysis three times a week and is in desperate need of a kidney transplant with very little hope That’s a real life crisis I am facing this year. But, this Rihanna thing is just a story about a ten-year-old rumor. It must have been an extremely slow news cycle this week for this story to hit like it did. However, when I first heard the story this week that the rumor I started actually broke Jay Z and Beyoncé up for a year, I did feel that I had to get in front of it. That’s why I did Inside Edition in the early morning on Thursday. The mainstream press was publishing this gossip, surprisingly, so I had to do something to set the record straight. This week, ten years after the rumor, was the first time I’ve ever heard that it may have broken the couple up. I don’t believe that to be true.
Hay Talks Making Amends With Jay Z & Beyonce
DX: When did you realize that this was rapidly growing into something that some would deem catastrophic?
Jonathan Hay: I don’t think it is something catastrophic. School shootings are catastrophic — not this.
DX: Have you had a chance to apologize to Beyoncé or Jay Z?
Jonathan Hay: I made peace with Jay Z many years ago about several things. I never knew I had to apologize to Beyoncé. I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but I didn’t think she cared about it at all at the time… and I still don’t think she cares to this day. That rumor didn’t break them up for a year; don’t believe the hype. I also don’t believe that this same rumor led to the elevator incident nine years later. This is all ridiculous. I apologized to Beyoncé publicly this week simply for the fact that she has to deal with all this nonsense. I am sorry that her and Rihanna both have to deal with this drama. Rihanna shouldn’t have to deal with this either. I’m truly sorry that she does. This is wack. Hopefully, Jay and Bey are sitting somewhere in a beach chair sun-blocking the haters. [Laughs]
DX: Were you ever afraid that this could have an adverse effect on your career?
Jonathan Hay: No, I don’t think it will hurt my career. I think the music I produce and the label; Urban Hitchcock, that I’m a partner in, all speak for themselves. I think I have the next Jay Z’s and Rihanna’s right now with my label. We have a full roster of talented people. I believe we have hit records. Our music has substance and talks about dealing with child abuse, alcoholism, suicide, heroin, depression and other real life issues.
DX: Will this affect you now that you’re at Tidal, a company and that’s headed up by Jay Z?
Jonathan Hay: Jay Z is the greatest rapper of all-time, hands down. He’s also the greatest businessman in hip-hop of all time. To be the greatest like he is, you’ve already had every punch thrown at you. He knows how to dodge a jab. He’s not thinking about any of this. I think if anything, Shawn Carter the husband and father could be mad that someone is profiting from opinions, speculations and rumors about this wife in the form of a book that was unauthorized. If this was me, and someone was saying this about my loved ones, believe me, I would get emotional and lash out. But that’s what makes Jay Z the greatest. He’s disciplined, he doesn’t act on emotion… he just keeps winning championships. He is truly the Michael Jordan of Hip Hop.
Jonathan Hay: I hope it doesn’t affect anything with Tidal or Roc Nation. Both companies have been great to me in my early producing career. Everybody knew about the ten-year-old publicity stunt before I was even with Tidal, so this is nothing new. When people put this spin on it, all of a sudden, like I ruined their relationship, I mean, they themselves know that’s not true. So why would it bother them? It is pretty awkward right now dealing with the Tidal guys with all this going, like an elephant in the room [laughs], but his company Tidal took a brutal lashing from a strategic smear campaign recently and Jay withstood it. Now, Tidal Is buzzing and quickly becoming that ‘it’ app.
DX: What’s your biggest fear or concern?
Jonathan Hay: My biggest concern is that people are concerned about all of this. Like this is real wack for my family and friends to read that I broke up the relationship of Jay Z and Beyoncé all these years later. Come on, that’s so ridiculous.
Hay Answers If He Would Do Anything Different
DX: If given the chance, would you have taken an alternate approach?
Jonathan Hay: In the end, I want to win… but I don’t want to do it with publicity stunts. I believe the music I’m producing can stand on it’s own. Granted, I’ll continue to do creative marketing, but flat out publicity stunts I stay away from.
DX: How do you move forward from something like this, when it’s plastered all over the net?
Jonathan Hay: Believe me, I’ve dealt with a lot worse in life. I’ll be fine.
DX: Do you expect any backlash from the Beehive or fellow publicists for that matter?
Jonathan Hay: I’m part of the Beehive myself [laughs]. I’m a huge fan of Beyoncé and in my opinion, she’s the greatest singer of all time. I’m not trying to kiss ass here. Anybody who really knows me, knows that I will spend hours debating over why Jay is the GOAT. And why Beyoncé is the GOAT.
DX: What would you like for everyone to know about Jonathan Hay?
Jonathan Hay: I would like people to know that a publicity stunt involving Rihanna, Beyoncé and Jay Z will not define who I am. I’m a music producer striving to be the next Quincy Jones. I think right now as far as producing goes; I murder everything that is moving. I believe I’m dangerous as a music producer because I produce music that I think can penetrate pop culture. And I’m good looking. I’m fat as f**k but I’m still a triple threat; I produce music, I’m good at publicity and I’m good looking [laughs]. I’m totally kidding here. Please leave in that I’m kidding so I don’t look like a douche. I struggle with looking like a douche anyways because I’m the type who wears sunglasses indoors.