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Jay-Z's Rocawear Brand Cuts Staff, Struggles For Mogul's Support

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While Jay-Z is on cloud nine with daughter Blue Ivy Carter, his former pride and joy, Rocawear, seems to be on the verge of chapter 11.

According to the New York Post, the hip-hop clothing brand, which Jay-Z founded in 1999 with producer Damon Dash, laid off half the staff of its men's and boys apparel division on January 6, one day before Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce Knowles, gave birth to the couple's baby girl.

The company cited "economic reasons" for the layoffs in documents filed with the New York State Department of Labor, the Post reports.

Jay-Z sold the Rocawear brand in 2007 for $204 million in cash to Iconix Group, a licensing company that also owns brands such as Candie's, Ed Hardy and Signature Apparel Group LLC, owned by "Real Housewife of New Jersey" Jacqueline Laurita.

In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Laurita's Signature Apparel, which designed, made and distributed Rocawear-branded juniors' apparel had gone belly up two years prior, was being hit with a lawsuit seeing some $2.8 million in damages from one of its Rocawear licensees, ROC Fashions.

The same month, Rocawear announced that it would start selling $22-a-pop "Occupy All Streets" T-shirts in response to the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York's Zucotti park, though none of the proceeds would go to support the occupiers. The company reportedly ceased sale of the shirts the following week amid harsh criticism.

Jay-Z has retained an interest in Rocawear as part of his 2007 deal, according to the Post, but his contractual obligations to the brand have expired and the rapper has since refused to promote it amid steady, double-digit sales drops.

"Jay-Z doesn't do anything without getting paid a lot of money -- a lot more than Rocawear is generating," a source reportedly to the paper.

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