Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper and businessman. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in Americahaving had a net worth of over $150 million in 2009. He has sold approximately 40 million albums worldwide,while receiving ten Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous more nominations.
Jay-Z co-owns The 40/40 Club, is part-owner of the NBA‘s New Jersey Nets and is also the creator of the clothing line Rocawear. He is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records and recently, the founder of his new venture Roc Nation. As an artist, he holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200. Jay-Z also has had 4 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one as lead artist; they are: “Heartbreaker” with Mariah Carey, “Crazy in Love” with Beyoncé, “Umbrella” with Rihanna and “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys.
Along with his financial and musical success, Jay-Z is known for quarrelling with other artists in the rap industry, the most famous feud being between him and fellow New York rapper Nas, which was eventually settled in 2005. He married American R&B superstar Beyoncé Knowles on April 4, 2008. On December 11, 2009, Jay-Z was ranked as the 10th best overall artist of the 2000–2009 decade by Billboard Magazine. (Ranking as the 5th top solo male artist and as the 4th top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent).
Originally from Marcy Houses housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City, Jay-Z was abandoned by his father and, at age 12, he shot his brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. Jay-Z attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn, along with rapper AZ, until it was closed down. After that he attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Downtown Brooklyn, which fellow rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes also attended, and Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, but did not graduate. In his music he refers to having been involved in selling crack cocaine.
According to his mother, Gloria Carter, a young Jay-Z used to wake his siblings up at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. Eventually, she bought him a boom box for his birthday, sparking his interest in music. He began freestyling, writing lyrics, and followed the music of many artists popular at the time. In his neighborhood, Carter was known as “Jazzy”, a nickname that eventually developed into his stage name, “Jay-Z”. The moniker is also an homage to his musical mentor, Jaz-O, as well as to the J/Z subway lines that have a stop at Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn.
Jay-Z can briefly be heard on several of Jaz-O’s early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “The Originators” and “Hawaiian Sophie”.Jay-Z was also involved in and won several battles with rapper LL Cool J in the early 90’s as part of a plan to get a sought-after record deal.He first became known to a wide audience by being featured 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, though Kane explains that he didn’t fill the traditional hype man role, instead Jay-Z “basically made 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”. He made an appearance 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 “I Can’t Get With That”, for which he released a music video
1996–97: Reasonable Doubt and In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
From the beginning of his professional recording career, when no major label gave him a record deal, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, and Kareem Biggs created Roc-A-Fella Records as their own independent label. After striking a deal with Priority to distribute his material, Jay-Z released his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt with beats from acclaimed producers such as DJ Premier and Super DJ Clark Kent and a notable appearance by The Notorious B.I.G.. Despite reaching only number 23 on the Billboard 200, the album was well-received by critics. This album would later be included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” as #248 and would later reach platinum status.
After reaching a new distribution deal with Def Jam in 1997, Jay-Z released his follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. Executively produced by Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, it sold better than his previous effort. Jay-Z later explained that the album was made during one of the worst periods of his life. He was reeling from the death of his close friend The Notorious B.I.G. The album was a personal revelation for Jay-Z as he spun the tale of his hard knock upbringing. The album’s glossy production stood as a contrast to his first release, and some dedicated fans felt he had “sold out”. However, the album did feature some beats from producers who had worked with him on Reasonable Doubt, namely DJ Premier and Ski. Like its predecessor, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 earned Platinum status in the United States.
1998–2000: Vol. 2… Criminal charges and mainstream success
In 1998, Jay-Z released Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life which spawned the biggest hit of his career at the time, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”. He relied more on flow and wordplay, and he continued with his penchant for mining beats from the popular producers of the day such as Swizz Beatz, an upstart in-house producer for Ruff Ryders, and Timbaland. Other producers include: DJ Premier, Erick Sermon, The 45 King, and Kid Capri. Charting hits from this album included “Can I Get A…”, featuring Ja Rule and Amil, and “Nigga What, Nigga Who”, which featured Amil too. Vol. 2 would eventually become Jay-Z’s most commercially successful album; it was certified 5× Platinum in the United States and has to date sold over five million copies. The album went on to win a Grammy Award, although Jay-Z boycotted the ceremony protesting DMX’s failure to garner a Grammy nomination.
In 1999, Jay-Z released Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, the album proved to be successful and sold over 3 million records. Vol. 3’s most successful single was “Big Pimpin'”, featuring UGK. Around the same time, Jay-Z was accused of stabbing record executive Lance “Un” Rivera for what Jay-Z perceived was Rivera’s bootlegging of Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter. The stabbing allegedly occurred at the record release party for Q-Tip’s debut solo album Amplified at the Kit Kat Klub, a now defunct night club in Times Square, New York City, on December 9. Jay-Z’s associates at the party were accused of causing a commotion within the club, which Jay-Z allegedly used as cover when he supposedly stabbed Rivera in the stomach with a five-inch (127 mm) blade.
Jay-Z initially denied the incident and pleaded not guilty when a grand jury returned the indictment. Jay-Z and his lawyers contended he was nowhere around Rivera during the incident and they had witnesses and videotape evidence from the club that showed Jay-Z’s whereabouts during the disturbance. Nevertheless, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that resulted in a sentence of three years probation. In 2000, Jay-Z released The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, which was originally intended to become a compilation album for Roc-A-Fella artists but somehow turned into another Jay-Z album. The album helped to introduce newcomer producers The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Kanye West and Bink!, which have all gone on to achieve notable success. This is also the first album where Jay-Z utilizes a more soulful sound than his previous albums. The Dynasty: Roc La Familia sold er two million units in the U.S. alone.
2001–02: Feud with Nas, The Blueprint and The Blueprint²
In 2001, Jay-Z spoke out against Prodigy after he took an issue with a Jay-Z line from “Money, Cash, Hoes” that he felt were subliminal shots at Mobb Deep and referenced Mobb Deep’s beef with Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Death Row Records. He later performed a song “Takeover,” at Summer Jam 2001, which initially attacked Prodigy and revealed photos of Prodigy dressed like Michael Jackson. A line at the end of “Takeover” referenced Nas, who criticized him on “We Will Survive”. Nas responded with a diss track called “Stillmatic” and almost instantly, Jay-Z added a verse to “Takeover” which dissed Nas and would start a feud between the two rappers. Jay-Z later released his sixth studio album The Blueprint which was later considered by many to be one of hip hop’s “classic” albums, receiving the coveted 5 mic review from The Source magazine. Released during the wake of September 11 attacks, the album managed to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, selling more than 427,000 units; the album’s success was overshadowed by the tragic event. The Blueprint has been certified 3x Platinum in the United States. The Blueprint was applauded for its production and the balance of “mainstream” and “hardcore” rap, receiving recognition from both audiences. The Blueprint was written in only two days. Eminem was the only guest rapper on the album, producing and rapping on the song “Renegade”. Four of the thirteen tracks on the album were produced by Kanye West and represents one of West’s first major breaks in the industry.The Blueprint includes the popular songs “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, “Girls, Girls, Girls, Jigga That Nigga and Song Cry.
Jay-Z’s next solo album was 2002’s 3 million (U.S. only) selling The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, a double-album. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number one, selling over 545,000 units and surpassing The Blueprint. It was later reissued in a single-disc version, The Blueprint 2.1, which retained half of the tracks from the original. The album spawned two massive hit singles, “Excuse Me Miss” and “Bonnie & Clyde” featuring Jay-Z’s girlfriend of four years Beyoncé Knowles. “Guns & Roses”, a track featuring rock musician Lenny Kravitz, and “Hovi Baby” were two successful radio singles as well. The album features the tracks “A Dream”, featuring Faith Evans and a recording of the late The Notorious B.I.G.; and “The Bounce”, featuring Kanye West. The Blueprint 2.1 features tracks that do not appear on The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, such as “Stop”, “La La La (Excuse Me Again)”, “What They Gonna Do, Part II” and “Beware” produced by and featuring Panjabi MC.
2003–05: The Black Album and Collision Course
After returning from a trip in the south of France, Jay-Z announced work on his 8th studio album The Black Album at the opening of the first 40/40 Club. He worked with several producers including Just Blaze, The Neptunes, Kanye West, Timbaland, Eminem, DJ Quik, 9th Wonder and Rick Rubin. Notable songs on the album included “What More Can I Say”, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, “Change Clothes”, and “99 Problems”. The Black Album has sold 3 million copies in the US.
On November 25, 2003, Jay-Z held a concert at Madison Square Garden, which would later be the focus of his film Fade to Black. This concert was his “retirement party”. All proceeds went to charity. Other performers included collaborators like The Roots (in the form of his backing band), Missy Elliott, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Siegel, Freeway, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Twista, Ghostface Killah, Foxy Brown, Pharrell and R. Kelly with special appearances by Voletta Wallace and Afeni Shakur, the mothers of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur respectively. While Jay-Z had attested to a retirement from making new studio albums, various side projects and appearances soon followed. Included in these were a greatest hits record, mash-up projects and concert appearances with R. Kelly and Linkin Park.
In 2004 Jay-Z collaborated with rock group Linkin Park. The project was named Collision Course, and contained a six track EP, as well as a making of DVD. Some of the mash ups tracks were entitled “Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You”, “Jigga What/Faint”, and “Numb/Encore”. “Numb/Encore” went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and was performed with Linkin Park live at the Grammys, with a special appearance by Paul McCartney, who added verses from the song Yesterday. The EP sold over 1 million copies in the US alone. Jay-Z was the executive producer of Fort Minor’s debut album The Rising Tied. Mike Shinoda got together with Jay-Z and Linkin Park bandmate Brad Delson to discuss what tracks should make the album.
Later in 2004, Jay-Z was named president of Def Jam Records, which led to Jay-Z, Dash and Biggs selling their remaining interests in Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z taking control of both of the companies. Reportedly this major industry move was prompted by disagreements between Jay-Z and Dash as to what direction Roc-A-Fella could undertake. The publicized split between Jay-Z, Dash and Biggs led to the former partners sending jabs at each other in interviews.
2005–07: “I Declare War”, Kingdom Come and American Gangster
On October 27, 2005, Jay-Z headlined New York’s Power 105.1 annual concert, Powerhouse. The concert was entitled the “I Declare War” concert leading to intense speculation in the weeks preceding the event on whom exactly Jay-Z would declare war. As he had previously “declared war” on other artists taking lyrical shots at him at other events, many believed that the Powerhouse show would represent an all-out assault by Jay-Z upon his rivals. The theme of the concert was Jay-Z’s position as President and CEO of Def Jam, complete with an on-stage mock-up of the Oval Office. Many artists made appearances such as the old roster of Roc-A-Fella records artists, as well as Ne-Yo, Teairra Mari, T.I., Young Jeezy, Akon, Kanye West, Paul Wall, The LOX, and Diddy.
At the conclusion of the concert, Jay-Z put many arguments to rest to the surprise of hip hop fans. The most significant development in this show was closure to the infamous hip hop rivalry between Jay-Z and Nas. The two former rivals shook hands and shared the stage together to perform Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents” blended with Nas’s song “The World is Yours”.
Jay-Z returned with his comeback album on November 21, 2006 titled Kingdom Come. Jay-Z’s comeback single, “Show Me What You Got“, was leaked on the Internet in early October 2006, scheduled to be released later on that month, received heavy air-play after its leak, causing the FBI to step in and investigate. Jay-Z worked with video director Hype Williams, and the single’s video was directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job). The album features producers such as Just Blaze, Pharrell, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Coldplay‘s Chris Martin (single entitled “Beach Chair”). The first week saw 680,000 sales of the CD, which Entertainment Weekly said was “the highest single-week total in Jay’s decade long career”. This album has sold 2 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Jay-Z released his tenth album entitled American Gangster on November 6, 2007. After viewing the Ridley Scott film of the same name, he was heavily inspired to create a new “concept” album that depicts his experiences as a street-hustler. The album is not the film’s official soundtrack, although it was distributed by Def Jam. Jay-Z’s American Gangster depicts his life in correlation to the movie American Gangster. At the start of the album’s first single, “Blue Magic”, Jay-Z offers a dealer’s manifesto while making references to political figures of the late 1980s with the lyric: “Blame Reagan for making me to into a monster, blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra, I ran contraband that they sponsored, before this rhymin’ stuff we was in concert.” Also notable about the “Blue Magic” music video was Jay-Z flashing 500 euro notes, in what Harvard Business School professor Rawi Abdelal has called a “turning point in American pop culture’s response to globalization.” The album has sold 1 million copies in the US. On December 24, 2007, Jay-Z stated that he will not remain at Def Jam as the company’s President, and vacated the position effective of January 1, 2008.
2008–present: Glastonbury, new record deal and The Blueprint 3
Jay-Z during his Glastonbury performance
It was controversially announced on February 2, 2008 that Jay-Z would headline the 2008 Glastonbury Festival, becoming the first major hip hop artist to headline the British festival. Tickets initially failed to sell out – with 100,000 being sold out of a possible 137,500. As the festival sold out in 2 hours the previous year critics blamed the choice of a hip hop artist as opposed to a rock band as the main problem, although another possible cause is the preceding run of terrible weather and flooding that in 2007 made life at the festival very difficult. Tickets eventually sold out in the final day before the festival. One of the more outspoken critics of his selection was Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, who criticised the organizers of the festival for scheduling Jay-Z as a headliner for the traditionally guitar-driven, stating “I’m sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night you go ‘Kylie Minogue?’ I don’t know about it. But I’m not having hip hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.”
Controversy ensued in the months leading up to the event with artists, promoters and fans weighing in both for and against. Jay-Z responded to this saying, “We don’t play guitars, Noel, but hip hop has put in its work like any other form of music. This headline show is just a natural progression. Rap music is still evolving. We have to respect each other’s genre of music and move forward.” In response to Gallagher’s criticism, Jay-Z opened his Glastonbury set with a tongue-in-cheek cover of Oasis’s iconic song “Wonderwall“. His Glastonbury performance was heralded as a successful response to pre-festival criticism.
He also headlined many other summer festivals in 2008, including Roskilde Festival in Denmark, Hove Festival in Norway and O2 Wireless Festival in London. During Kanye West’s August 6, 2008 concert at Madison Square Garden, Jay-Z came out to perform a new song and he and Kanye proclaimed that it was to be on The Blueprint 3. On May 21, 2009, Jay-Z announced he would be parting ways with Def Jam, and had struck a multi-million dollar deal to sign with Live Nation, with whom he would start his Roc Nation imprint which would serve as a record label, talent/management agency, and music publishing company and also partnered up with production team Stargate to start a record label called StarRoc. Jay-Z’s 11th studio album The Blueprint 3 was originally to be released on September 11, 2009 but was instead released in North America on September 8, 2009 due to increasing anticipation. Its international release followed on September 14. It is his 11th album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200 and has surpassed Elvis Presley’s previous record, making him the current record holder.
On October 9, 2009, Jay-Z kicked off his tour for The Blueprint 3, during which he will support his new album in North America. In a Shave Magazine review of his performance at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Jake Tomlinson expressed that “It was the type of smooth performance you would expect from the hip-hop superstar.” The review gave this performance 4 stars. His North American tour is scheduled to continue until November 22, 2009. At his concert on November 8, 2009 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, Rihanna joined him on stage and performed “Hard” for the very first time, then performed “Run This Town” with Jay. Enjoying their performances were Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Nicole Richie and Samantha Ronson, James Blunt, and Jamie Foxx. Among his success, Jay-Z has ventured into producing Broadway shows. Along with Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Jay-Z helped produced the play “Fela!,” a musical celebrating the work of the late Nigerian star Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Jay-Z said he was inspired by the power of Kuti’s work and his life story, which resulted in his interest to help produce the musical. “Fela!” is a story about an African pioneer and political activist who made his first moves on the scene during the 1970s. On January 23, 2010, Jay-Z released a track, Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour), with Rihanna, and U2‘s Bono and The Edge, as well as performing it at the Hope For Haiti Now telethon.
Royce da 5’9″ and Fredro Starr of Onyx both describe Jay-Z’s emphasis on flow in the book How to Rap – Fredro says that Jay-Z is “a master of the flow—he can flow fast, he can flow slow”. The book describes how Jay-Z uses ‘rests’ to provide structure to a verse and how he uses ‘partial linking’ to add more rhymes to a verse. Jay-Z’s early style is described by Vibe magazine as “a distinctly Das EFX-type, stiggety style” on his 12″ single “Can’t Get With That”, referring to the fast rhythms and vocal delivery of the group Das EFX. He is also known to write lyrics in his head, as described by Pusha T of Clipse in How to Rap, a style popular with many MCs such as Notorious B.I.G., Everlast, Bobby Creekwater and Guerilla Black. Shock G of Digital Underground describes Jay-Z’s performance style, saying he “rarely breaks a sweat, and instead uses smoothness and clever wordplay to keep the audience interested and entertained”.
Jay-Z has also established himself as an entrepreneur like his fellow hip hop moguls, and friends, Russell Simmons, Dr. Dre and Sean “Diddy” Combs, who also have business holdings such as record companies and clothing lines. In an interview, he stated that “my brands are an extension of me. They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.” He is the founder of the urban clothing brand Rocawear along with Damon Dash. Rocawear has clothing lines and accessories for men, women and children. The line was taken over by Jay-Z in early 2006 following a falling out with co-founder Damon Dash. In March 2007, Jay-Z sold the rights to the Rocawear brand to Iconix Brand Group, for $204 million. Jay-Z will retain his stake in the company and will continue to oversee the marketing, licensing and product development. He also co-owns The 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar that started in New York City and has since expanded to Atlantic City and Chicago. In 2008, the 40/40 club in Las Vegas was closed down and bought back by the hotel after attendance steadily declined, future plans will see 40/40 Clubs in Tokyo, and Singapore. In 2005, Jay-Z became an investor in Carol’s Daughter, a line of beauty products, including products for hair, skin, and hands, as well as fragrances.
Jay-Z serves as co-brand director for Budweiser Select and collaborates with the company on strategic marketing programs and creative ad development. He provides direction on brand programs and ads that appear on TV, radio, print, and high-profile events. He is a part-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team paying a reported $4.5 million for his share. He is interested in relocating the team to Brooklyn. In October 2005, he was reported in English media as considering buying a stake of Arsenal F.C., an English soccer team. He has also invested in a real estate development venture called J Hotels which recently acquired a $66 million mid-block parcel in Chelsea, New York. Jay-Z and his partners are contemplating constructing a high-end hotel or an art gallery building on the newly acquired site which has the potential to go up about twelve stories.
Through his company Gain Global Investments Network LLC, had an interest estimated between 2 and 7% in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) consortium which in January 2010 was awarded a contract to operate a 4,500 slot machine racino at the Aqueduct Race Track. Jay-Z became interested in the project after New York Governor David Paterson who awarded the contract said there had to be an affirmative action component to the ownership. Jay-Z initially approached Steve Wynn who was also bidding on the contract. Wynn eventually dropped out of the bidding saying the process was too murky and confusing. He then joined AEG which at the time at the worst bid of the six running for the track. AEG upped its bid so that it eventually had the best deal for the state. The process is reported to be investigated by the U.S. prosecutors—particularly in light of a charge that AEG won the bid two days after Queens politician Floyd Flake (who is also an investor in AEG) threatened to switch his support in the 2010 governor race from Paterson to Andrew Cuomo. New York house speaker Sheldon Silver has threatened not to sign off on the deal. Paterson has maintained there was no quid pro quo. On March 9, 2010, Jay-Z and Flake withdrew from the project and Paterson recused himself from further involvement
Relationship with Beyoncé
Jay-Z’s most public relationship has been with American R&B superstar Beyoncé Knowles, the former lead singer of Destiny’s Child. In 2002, Jay-Z & Beyoncé collaborated for the song “Bonnie & Clyde”. Jay-Z also appeared on Knowles’ hit single “Crazy In Love” and as well as “That’s How You Like It” from her debut Dangerously in Love. On her second album, B’Day, he made appearances on the 2006 hits, “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U”. In the video for the latter song, she comically imitates his appearance. The couple generally avoid discussing their relationship. Beyoncé has stated that she believes that not publicly discussing their relationship has helped them. Jay-Z said in a People article, “We don’t play with our relationship.” They keep a low public profile despite being photographed at New Jersey Nets home games and while on vacation in Cannes in 2007. On April 4, 2008, it was reported by People that Knowles and Jay-Z had been married at a private ceremony in New York City. It became a matter of public record on April 22, 2008,  but Knowles did not publicly debut her $5 million Lorraine Schwartz-designed wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008 in New York City.
During his retirement, Jay-Z also became involved in philanthropic activity. On August 9, 2006, he met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the organization’s headquarters in New York City. The rapper pledged to use his upcoming world tour to raise awareness of and combat global water shortage. Already on the look-out for a way to, in his own words, “become helpful”, he had been made aware of this issue during a visit to Africa. The effort took place in partnership with the UN, as well as MTV, which produced a documentary entitled Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life, first airing in November 2006. Along with Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jay-Z pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross’ relief effort after Hurricane Katrina. Jay-Z stated his support for Kanye West after the latter’s outburst against President Bush during a live Katrina charity telethon. He also addressed the issue of the Katrina disaster, and the government’s response, in his song “Minority Report”.
all information found on wikipedia