Shawn Corey Carter was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on December 4, 1969.He was raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood. After their father, Adnis Reeves, abandoned the family, Jay-Z and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter. Reeves would later meet and reconcile with Jay-Z shortly before dying in 2003. Jay-Z claims in his lyrics that in 1982, at age 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. Along with rapper AZ, he attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed. He then attended nearby George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, followed by a stint at Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, though he did not graduate. According to his interviews and lyrics, he sold crack cocaine and was shot at three times during this period.
According to his mother, Jay-Z used to wake up his siblings at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. She bought him a boombox for his birthday, sparking his interest in music, and he began freestyling and writing lyrics. Known as “Jazzy” around the neighborhood, he later adopted the stage name “Jay-Z” in homage to his mentor Jaz-O. Jay-Z can be briefly heard on several of Jaz-O’s early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “HP Gets Busy”, “The Originators” and “Hawaiian Sophie”. Jay-Z became embroiled in several battles with rapper LL Cool J in the early 1990s. He first became known to a wide audience on the posse cut “Show and Prove” on the 1994 Big Daddy Kane album Daddy’s Home. Jay-Z has been referred to as Big Daddy Kane’s hype man during this period, although Kane explains that he didn’t fill the traditional hype man role, and was instead basically making cameo appearances on stage. “When I would leave the stage to go change outfits, I would bring out Jay-Z and Positive K and let them freestyle until I came back to the stage.” The young Jay-Z appeared on a popular song by Big L, “Da Graveyard”, and on Mic Geronimo’s “Time to Build”, which also featured early appearances by DMX and Ja Rule in 1995. His first official rap single was called “In My Lifetime”, for which he released a music video in 1995. An unreleased music video was also produced for the B-side “I Can’t Get with That.”
Music & Business
Born and raised in New York City, Jay-Z first began his musical career after founding the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, and subsequently released his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was released to widespread critical success, and solidified his standing in the music industry. He has gone on to release twelve additional albums, including the acclaimed albums The Blueprint (2001), The Black Album (2003), American Gangster (2007), and 4:44 (2017). Jay-Z has also released the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) with Kanye West and Everything Is Love (2018) with his wife Beyoncé, respectively.
Outside of his musical career, Jay-Z has also attained significant success and media attention for his career as a businessman. In 1999, he founded the clothing retailer Rocawear, and in 2003, he founded the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club. Both businesses have grown to become multi-million-dollar corporations, and allowed Jay-Z to fund the start-up for the entertainment company Roc Nation, which was founded in 2008. In 2015, he acquired the tech company Aspiro and took charge of their media streaming service Tidal.
Jay-Z is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with over 50 million albums and 75 million singles sold worldwide. He has won a total of 23 Grammy Awards, the most by a rapper, and holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200, with 14. He has been ranked by Billboard and fellow music publication Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2017, he became the first rapper to be honored into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2018, received the commemorative “Salute to Industry Icons” award at the 60th Grammy Awards. In June 2019, Jay-Z officially became the first hip hop billionaire, making him the among the top wealthiest black Americans and the 2nd wealthiest American musician to date. In December 2020, Jay-Z launched a line of cannabis products called “Monogram”. Jay-z has won 249 awards out of 400 nominations.
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In 2002, Jay-Z and singer Beyoncé collaborated on the song “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”. He also appeared on Beyoncé’s hit single “Crazy in Love” as well as “That’s How You Like It” from her debut album Dangerously in Love. On her second album, B’Day, he made appearances on the hits “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U”. In the video for the latter song, she comically imitates his appearance. They kept a low profile while dating and were married on April 4, 2008.Their relationship became a matter of public record on April 22, 2008, but Beyoncé did not publicly debut her $5 million Lorraine Schwartz-designed wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008. They reside in an $88 million home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. They generally avoid discussing their relationship, and Beyoncé has stated her belief that this has helped them, while Jay-Z agreed in a People article that they do not “play with [their] relationship”.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z were listed as the most powerful couple for Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood’s top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.
At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child. Their daughter, Blue Ivy, was born at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital on January 7, 2012. Jay-Z released “Glory”, a song dedicated to their child, through his website on January 9, 2012. The song detailed the couple’s pregnancy struggles, including a miscarriage Beyoncé had suffered. Because Blue’s cries were included at the end of the song and she was officially credited on the song as “B.I.C”, she became the youngest person ever (at two days old) to appear on a Billboard chart when “Glory” debuted at No. 74 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. On June 18, 2017, Beyoncé’s father Mathew Knowles confirmed that she and Jay-Z had welcomed twins: a daughter named Rumi and a son named Sir.