Shawn Corey Carter, a.k.a Jay-Z, is quite the polymath. He is a rapper, producer, songwriter, serial entrepreneur and an executive.
Jay-Z is undoubtedly one of the G.O.A.T’s of the rap world and is considered to be one of the worlds biggest cultural icons. The road to becoming a global pop culture icon wasn’t an easy one for Jay-Z and it took a decent amount of grit to get to the top. He was raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood, which he has a song about in his album ‘4:44’. During this time he sold cocaine and was shot 3 times. We are eternally grateful that he made it through this period and went on to become Jay-Z.
No record label was interested in giving Jay-Z a deal for his first album so he took to selling CDs out of his car and eventually co-founded the record label ‘Roc-A-Fella Records’ with Kareen Biggs and Damon Dash. This led to the release of his first studio album ‘Reasonable Doubt’ (definitely a jibe at the law) which featured another icon and close friend of Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G. – the album would later be featured on The Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. Soul artists Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway were the early influencers in Jay-Z’s music life through records of his parents. He grew up around music and his wide interest in music is evident in his albums clearly displaying varying musical genres and influences.
Outside of music Jay-Z has been just as successful in starting clothing retailer Rocawear, sports bar chain 40/40 Club, the funding of entertainment company Roc Nation and even acquiring a tech company Aspiro. He was an integral part of starting the ‘rapper businessman’ trend where legitimate business became the order of the day. He is also married to superstar Beyonce who is as much of a global icon and together they are considered to be one of the greatest power couples of all time.
As is the case with most rappers he courted his fair share of controversy through his life shooting his brother in the shoulder when he was 12 and stabbing an American film director in 1999.
This year, 2019, the album The Blueprint was selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.”