Record mogul J-Roll, part of the team to Bieb

Jimmy Rollins, with attorney Christopher Cabott (left) at Temple: 'I'm on the other side, now. You learn how an owner thinks.'
Jimmy Rollins, with attorney Christopher Cabott (left) at Temple: 'I'm on the other side, now. You learn how an owner thinks.'
Posted: January 26, 2011

JIMMY ROLLINS, record mogul?

Oh yeah, baby.

Rollins flashed in an MC Hammer video at age 13. He once tried to change his nickname, from J-Roll to J-Smooth. He carried sunglass frames with six different-color lenses. He decorated his bedroom walls in bamboo and jungle prints.

A 5-8 Mighty Mouse, Rollins switched from No. 6 to No. 11 because, he said, 11 makes him look taller. He famously issued a treatise on afro-puffs vs. braids, before nature denied him either option. He posed for a Playboy fashion shoot with his wife, Johari Smith.

With his 2008 World Series check, he bought himself a Bentley Brooklands - a $350,000 coupe equipped with heated seats that have a massage function.

And those are just the back seats. Imagine what the front seats can do.

From his monogrammed cleats to his personalized glove, Rollins has always been a showman. Now, he's part of the hottest act in show business.

Rollins owns 5 percent of the publishing rights to Justin Bieber's "Eenie Meenie," a hit duet with Jamaican chubster Sean Kingston. The song appears on Bieber's platinum album, "My World 2.0."

Consider it another success for a man unashamed to celebrate successes.

Rollins' style always has substance: four consecutive National League East titles, three trips to the All-Star Game, three Gold Gloves, an MVP award in 2007 and a World Series ring in 2008.

Yesterday morning, after addressing about 150 adoring students at Temple's Fox School of Business, Rollins, CEO of the Jimmy Rollins Entertainment Group, received his platinum records that marked 1 million units sold.

Rollins explained his business and where he hopes to take it. Mainly, it was a recitation of what Rollins learned in his baseball career: Hard work equals great results, but nothing is promised.

"It can become a headache, dealing with attitudes," Rollins told the Daily News yesterday, after the seminar. "It's like, 'I'm giving you the opportunity . . . but I owe you?' You get tired of dealing with divas."

Yes, he sounds like a front-office suit talking about a petulant player. He has learned to appreciate what it is like to be Phillies president David Montgomery.

"Yeah, I'm on the other side, now," Rollins said. "You learn how an owner thinks."

A modest owner, anyway.

Rollins indicated that his investment in Bieber's song cost him about $20,000. Rollins' attorney, Christopher Cabott, who also teaches entertainment and sports law at Temple, yesterday presented to the assemblage a formula that, for that 5 percent stake, recoups about $10,000 per million units sold.

Considering Rollins' limited overhead, he has made his money back.

Of course, these days Rollins' company consists of him, his checkbook and his bank account. In 2009, Cabott persuaded Rollins to abandon the costly business of developing talent and concentrate on publishing investment opportunities.

Rollins still has an artist in his stable: 22-year-old Chanel Nicole. Her development has been slowed, Cabott said.

"Developing artists - that's where the fast money and big money comes from," said Rollins.

Rollins and Cabott detailed yesterday how the steady money comes from buying into a writer's stake in a song, then reaping royalties for the lifetime of the writer, plus 70 years.

Not one to pigeonhole himself with weenie teenies, Rollins also owns a share of Snoop Dogg's "Sexual Eruption," a less-subtle lyrical adventure, released in 2007. He owns 20 songs recorded by Chanel Nicole, too.

Not every deal gets done. Rollins declined the offer to buy a piece of Jamie Foxx' overproduced 2009 hit, "Blame It." Rollins didn't want to own the sort of novelty stinkers Don Johnson or Eddie Murphy put on wax. You don't hear "Party All the Time" at the ballpark much these days.

"He's an actor first," Rollins said of Foxx. "Their songs and musical careers have a very short shelf life. He isn't, through and through, an artist first."

Rollins said that he and Cabott will continue to troll the waters for promising young talent, but they will be more discriminating than Rollins was in his first foray into the music business as the leader of Bay Sluggas Inc.

Back then, Rollins said, he included talented friends and family. He spent gobs of money. Still, he failed to unearth a singer with the rare combination of pipes, perseverance and personality.

"You've got to have star appeal. The 'It' factor," Rollins told the group.

If anyone knows about "It" factor, it's Rollins.

He called the Phillies "The team to beat" in 2008 (correctly). He predicted that the Phillies would beat the Yankees in five games in the 2009 World Series (incorrectly).

Rollins' gap-toothed smile and insouciance kept the mood light. His combination of wonderful skills and impish personality - his "It" factor - has made him the team's spokesman, its leader.

As such, after his annual dentist appointment, Rollins yesterday gladly, if numbly, addressed the team's offseason rumblings.

He respectfully rejected manager Charlie Manuel's assertion last month that Rollins' questionable conditioning led to the leg injuries that limited Rollins to 88 games in 2010.

"I've never been out of shape in my life," Rollins told the Daily News. "You go 10 years in the league before going on the disabled list with a muscular injury - that's just wear and tear. I was in great shape before the injury."

That said, Rollins, his wife and their dogs will pile into his luxury SUV next week and drive to Florida a bit early. After all, he's 32, he's in the final year of his contract, and, whether due to injury or inefficiency, his past three seasons have not approached the four that preceded them.

Not that he hasn't tried, he said. Rollins laughed at Manuel's contention that the Phillies became complacent in 2010.

"Show me a complacent team that wins 97 games," Rollins said. "That's one hell of a team you have there."

That the Phillies lost in six games to the Giants, who went on to win the Series, is no indication that the club cooled in its desire to win.

"It's like winning a marathon. You don't get as excited at the start of your second, third, fourth race," Rollins said. "With a veteran team, the fire doesn't go out. It's a tempered flame."

Rollins still feels the fire to hit atop the lineup, but he understands that, with Jayson Werth having left via free agency, he might be asked to bat third or fifth.

"But the benefit of having me up there," he said, chuckling, "is that I make runs happen."

Ah. Classic J-Roll. How could he ever bear leaving the limelight?

Rollins admitted he is drawn to the record business because it always is current, and it will always make him relevant. He knows his time in the sun with baseball will end sooner than later.

"I'm done with baseball in 5, 10 years, what am I then? A former baseball player," Rollins said. "It's being a Gemini. I do love the spotlight, when it's something I'm supposed to be involved with . . . Hopefully, you grow and grow and become a power player. Have an artist. Have more than one artist. Get that one person who can put you on the map. I'll feel like that artist is a part of me."

He wants to be the next Seymour Stein, the Sire Records chief whose discoveries included a host of new-wave acts and Madonna. That's better than being the guy who used to be Jimmy Rollins.

His love for music blossomed as a child. Nighttime performances by Rollins and his brother turned into a middle-school passion for the trumpet, which he forsook as a high-school sophomore to fully concentrate on baseball.

He has reached the mountaintop in baseball, but he always dreamed of a career in music. Now, that dream is turning to more than gold.

It's turning platinum.

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