You don't really believe all of this shit, do you?

Celebrities are nothing without an image. Some hold true to their heart, spewing honest façades through mandatory hardships and criticism. To others, it’s a game of figuring out what works while exploiting campaigns through the public. Money talks.

At an estimated $1 billion combined net worth, Jay Z and Beyoncé are doing just fine. The two of them, both separately and together, have done things in their careers that have spun the music industry on its head. To their fans, they do no wrong, and with the acquisition of Tidal and sudden interest in social issues, the two have stayed relatively current in what’s now, and what will be in the future.

But the two of them are playing everyone like a stack of bent-up playing cards.

They don’t need money. They have money. In an artist’s career, there are steps one takes to garner a comfortable security checkpoint. The initial struggle often deals with what someone wants to create versus what everyone else is buying. A musician may hate their radio single from repetitive performances, but have to make it an exclamation point in the stage show lest they want to lose every fan in the building.

Get enough hits, however, and they can start cherry-picking an identity. Opting out of one song in lieu of another, building capital along the way to gain control of more and more of the content’s rights, ultimately ending up like a Prince, or a Thom Yorke … or a Beyoncé — someone who controls the output and is exceptionally prolific at making it speak the way they want it to speak.

Beyoncé knew damn well what she was getting into when she released Lemonade, thinking otherwise is an insult to intelligence. Controversy sells. Do you think Kanye West just so happened to fall into an online beef with Wiz Khalifa (who has over 25.5 million Twitter followers) a few weeks before his album released by coincidence? People are paid egregious amounts of money to figure out what’s going to get the most media attention for a product.

People want controversy.

They talk about it because it’s there, it’s current and it’s exciting.

When Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister, tried to beat the shit out of Jay Z in an elevator worth more than most cars, the world watched. It boosted the couple’s social presence even though it was a private moment between family. Even if it wasn’t completely staged, the act was the prelude to a storyline. A lucrative one, at that.

Rumors of divorce and infidelity dominated the ubiquitous headlines. Would one of America’s power couples split because of a cliché ‘dick in another chick’ plot? Who was she, this as-of-yet spoken of “Becky with the good hair” that eventually would make her way into a massively charting single? Is "Bey Z" over?

The two of them had options, of course. They could ignore it, allowing it to fade into the feed of clickbaits past, or they could exploit it, turn it into something of value. If the thrusting kick heard ‘round the world would be step one, what would be Beyoncé’s step two?

She’s a brilliant woman. She presumably knew that releasing another album with the same old tired rhetoric about ‘single lady’ bullshit or waking up 'flawless' wasn't going to work. It’s already been done. It’s out there. It’s old. She needed a profitable shtick, one her sister began promoting with a grainy assault nobody (or maybe everyone) was supposed to see.

From then on, the screenplay was written. Jay Z got himself involved in a disastrous company that even the most prolific of minds can’t keep afloat. If exclusive content was going to be the one life vessel Tidal has, the albums being delivered as such can’t be what every other artist is putting out through worn campaigns. They have to draw headlines.

Kanye West and Beyoncé, of all people, know how to blow up headlines in their favor.

So Lemonade has run its course. One week old and it’s already a forgotten collection. Social fuel has run out. Which is why, this morning, an unknown “source” began speaking to outlets about Jay Z being in the process of writing an album, too — a response to his wife’s maybe-true, maybe-not-true admissions of infidelity.

Will he call it Arnold Palmer?

This is the same Jay Z that claimed The Black Album in 2003 was going to be his last album. The same Jay Z that said he'd rather run businesses than rap anymore.

Tidal is running out of superstars. Who else is going to be able to play the exclusive game so that the streaming company can keep its numbers moving forward? It’s worked for now, but for how long?

Jay Z could be a cheater, and Beyoncé might be the woman scorned. But if we’re to believe that either one of them are going to put out content for the sole purpose of speaking to their audience about it, to tell an honest story through music without promise of return — like it used to be — then we should all be branded as suckers.

It isn’t about art; it’s about money, ego, exaltation and keeping a very expensive business afloat. If Jay Z does release a new album, it should be viewed as what it is — what Lemonade is too — a desperate attempt to garner headlines, the exact thing they’re going to need if either of them are going to stay relevant in a world that easily falls into trends and out of them just as quick.

The game’s changed. If you’re not the one dealing yourself a hand of aces, consider it you who’s being played.