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*Jay-Z was born on this date in 1969. He is a Black rapper, songwriter, record executive, businessman, and record producer.
Born Shawn Corey Carter in Brooklyn, New York, he was raised in Marcy Houses in the 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 died in 2003. Jay-Z 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 semesters at Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, though he did not graduate.
According to his lyrics, he sold crack cocaine and was shot three times during this period. According to his mother, Jay-Z woke up his siblings at night by banging 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. However, Kane explains that he didn't fill the traditional hype man role and was instead making cameo appearances on stage. "When I would leave the stage to 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." After founding the record label, Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, he released his debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996. The album was released to solidify his standing in the music industry. On April 4, 2008, he married Beyoncé Knowles.
He has gone on to release many 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, allowing him to fund the start-up for the entertainment company Roc Nation, founded in 2008.
In 2015, he acquired the tech company Aspiro and took charge of Tidal's media streaming service. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop artists in history and is often cited as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Jay-Z has sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles sold worldwide. He has won over 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 in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and 2018. In June 2019, Jay-Z officially became the first hip-hop billionaire, making him among the top wealthiest Blacks in America and the 2nd wealthiest American musician. In December 2020, Jay-Z launched a line of cannabis products called "Monogram."