Jay Z is an American rapper, businessman, and investor. Formerly known as Jay-Z, he is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold more than 100 million records, while receiving 21 Grammy Awards for his music.
Let’s see some interesting facts about him!
1. Shawn Corey Carter was born December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
2. He and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter after their father, Adness Reeves abandoned the family.
3. Reeves died of liver failure in 2003, shortly after meeting with Jay Z and receiving his forgiveness.
4. Jay Z claims in his lyrics that in 1982, at the age of 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry.
5. Along with future rapper AZ, Carter attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down.
6. He then attended the nearby George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with future 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.
7. According to his interviews and lyrics, during this period he sold crack cocaine and was shot at three times.
8. According to his mother, Carter used to wake up his siblings at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. She bought him a boom box for his birthday, sparking his interest in music. He began freestyling and writing lyrics.
9. Known as “Jazzy” around the neighborhood, Carter later adopted the showbiz/stage name “Jay-Z” in homage to his mentor Jaz-O. He would drop the hyphen in 2013.
10. Jay Z can be briefly heard on several of Jaz-O’s early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “The Originators” and “Hawaiian Sophie”.
11. Jay Z became embroiled in several battles with rapper LL Cool J in the early 1990s.
12. 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.
13. 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 ma[king] 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.”
14. 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.
15. His first official rap single was called “In My Lifetime”, for which he released a music video. An unreleased music video was also produced for the B-side “I Can’t Get with That.”
16. With no major label to give him a record deal, Jay Z sold CDs out of his car and, with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs, created Roc-A-Fella Records as an independent label in 1995. After striking a distribution deal with Priority, Jay Z released his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt with beats from acclaimed producers such as DJ Premier and Super DJ Clark Kent and an appearance by The Notorious B.I.G..
17. The album reached number 23 on the Billboard 200, and was generally favored by critics. This album would later be included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” as No. 248 and eventually reach platinum status.
18. After reaching a new distribution deal with Def Jam in 1997, Jay Z released his follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. Produced by Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, it sold better than his previous effort.
19. Jay Z later explained that the album was made during one of the worst periods of his life, when 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 told the stories of his difficult upbringing.
20. The album’s glossy production stood as a contrast to his first release, and some dedicated fans felt he had “sold out”.
21. 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)”.
22. In 1999, Jay Z dueted with Mariah Carey on “Heartbreaker”, a song from her seventh album, Rainbow.
23. 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 a 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 sold over two million units in the U.S. alone.
24. 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.
25. 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 2x Platinum in the United States
26. In October 2001, Jay Z plead guilty to stabbing record producer Lance Rivera at the Kit Kat Klub in New York City. For the conviction, a second degree felony, Jay-Z was sentenced to 3 years probation.
27. Jay Z’s next solo album was 2002’s The Blueprint2: The Gift & the Curse, a double-album. The album spawned two massive hit singles, “Excuse Me Miss” and “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”, which featured Jay Z’s future wife Beyoncé.
28. On November 25, 2003, Jay Z held a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which would later be the focus of his film Fade to Black. This concert was his “retirement party”. All proceeds went to charity.
29. 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, as well as the release and tour of Unfinished Business, the second collaborative album between Jay Z and R. Kelly.
30. Jay Z and his wife Beyonce generally avoids 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.”
31. The couple kept a low profile while dating, and married quietly in April 2008.
32. Beyoncé and Jay Z were listed as the most powerful couple for TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006.
33. On January 9, 2012, Jay Z released “Glory”, a song dedicated to their child, on his social website LifeandTimes.com. Because Blue’s cries were included at the end of the song and she was officially credited on the song as “B.I.C”, at 2 days old she became the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart when “Glory” debuted on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 74.
34. On November 16, 2010, Jay Z published a memoir entitled Decoded.
35. Jay Z is married to American R&B singer Beyoncé. In 2002, Jay Z and Beyoncé collaborated for the song “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”.
36. Jay Z 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.
37. 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.
38. The couple generally avoids discussing their relationship. Beyoncé has stated that she believes that not publicly discussing their relationship has helped them.
39. Jay Z said in a People article, “We don’t play with our relationship.” They kept a low profile while dating, and married in April 2008.
40. It 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 in New York City.
41. Beyoncé and Jay Z were listed as the most powerful couple for TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006.
42. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood’s top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They also made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.
43. At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child] and on January 7, 2012, she gave birth to their daughter, named Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
44. On January 9, 2012, Jay Z released “Glory”, a song dedicated to their child, on his social website LifeandTimes.com. The song detailed the couple’s pregnancy struggles, including a miscarriage Beyoncé suffered before becoming pregnant with their daughter.
45. Because Blue’s cries were included at the end of the song and she was officially credited on the song as “B.I.C”, at 2 days old she became the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart when “Glory” debuted on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 74.
46. Jay Z consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers ever, he was ranked number one by MTV in their list of The Greatest MCs of All-Time in 2006.