Incarcerated drug dealer turned millionaire real-estate tycoon

JayMrRealEstate talks Jay Morrison Academy

By Ural Garrett | 11/24/2014, 3:02 p.m.

For the past few years, there has been one particular voice advocating responsible economics and ownership within Hip Hop culture. That sharply dressed and charismatic gentleman is real-estate tycoon Jay Morrison aka JayMrRealEstate. Part of his appeal is how much his story represents not only the “started from the bottom” mentality that riddles Hip Hop, but also the much sought after American dream.

Growing up during the early ‘80s crack epidemic in central New Jersey, Morrison describes himself as being baptized in the drug trade. “My grandmother sold drugs, my father sold drugs, my mom sold drugs and I grew up to sell drugs,” Morrison describes. Graduating to eventually having his own empire, he made his way to operating outside of the east coast; going as far out as Nebraska. According to an article in the New York Observer, he mentions yearly sales of almost $100,000.

Like many African American males caught in the drug game, the dangerous lifestyle landed him in prison a few times. “I [never] thought at 17 that I would go to jail but being forced into that environment, you realize you can adapt better than you think,” explains Morrison. “Not that jail was fun, cool, or easy, but once you get in that position, you have to figure out what you’re going to do.”

“You’re really confined to these guidelines where you work eight-hour shifts, get bossed around and make 13 cents per day doing jobs like picking up trash and mopping floors,” he says. “It puts a different perspective on life and freedom.” However, spending time at prisons like Rikers Island and Easter Correctional Institution in Maryland didn’t deter Morrison from heading back into the streets. “Every time I came home from prison, I came home to money, hustle and business as usual.”

Mid-way through his ‘20s, Morrison began questioning where his life was heading. “I was debating with myself where I would be when I turned 30,” he says. “I could only see myself dead or in jail no matter what I tried.”

Describing that moment as when he went “cold turkey,” he broke his burner (prepaid cell phone specifically used in drug dealing), gave the rest of his work to his partner and went full steam into real-estate.

While on parole for his drug offenses, Morrison worked for a mortgage company; making himself familiar with concepts of financing real-estate and how to invest. “It took me about a year to learn the real-estate business the right way and to develop professional etiquette and culture,” he says. “I didn’t have any choice but to learn and I figured out proper cadence of speech, vocabulary, and how to dress and manage in that environment.”

With the tools in place, Morrison began as a real-estate investor and bought three properties.

Utilizing lessons learned from his past in drug dealing on the streets, it wasn’t too difficult for Morrison to build a clientele. “I don’t know how my integrity would have been built otherwise, but because I was in the streets, it was like I was groomed from a teen to have honor and be a man of my word,” said Morrison says. “I took that with me in [this] business, I’m honest about what I do and I’m honest with my clients.” Morrison credits these character traits for the following and respect he enjoys today.