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JAY Z

Artist profile

Shawn Corey Carter a.k.a. Jay Z

Born: December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.

Years active: 1989 - present

“Can't knock the hustle”

Born Shawn Corey Carter in New York City on December 4, 1969, Jay-Z grew up in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects. He used rap as an escape, appearing for the first time on Yo! MTV Raps in 1989. After selling millions of records with his own Roc-a-Fella label, Jay-Z created his own clothing line. He wed popular singer and actress Beyoncé in 2008.

Rapper Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. “He was the last of my four children,” Jay-Z’s mother, Gloria Carter, later recalled, “the only one who didn’t give me any pain when I gave birth to him, and that’s how I knew he was a special child.” Jay-Z’s father, Adnes Reeves, left the family when Jay Z was only 11 years old. The young rapper was raised by his mother in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects.

Jay Z 1987

Jay Z 1987

During a rough adolescence, detailed in many of his autobiographical songs, Shawn Carter dealt drugs and flirted with gun violence. He attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn, where he was a classmate of the soon-to-be-martyred rap legend Notorious B.I.G. As Jay-Z later remembered his childhood in one of his songs (“December 4th”): “I went to school, got good grades, could behave when I wanted/ But I had demons deep inside that would raise when confronted.”

Carter turned to rap at a young age as an escape from the drugs, violence and poverty that surrounded him in the Marcy Projects. In 1989, he joined the rapper Jaz-O — an older performer who served as a kind of mentor—to record a song called “The Originators,” which won the pair an appearance on an episode of Yo! MTV Raps. It was at this point that Shawn Carter embraced the nickname Jay-Z, which was simultaneously an homage to Jaz-O, a play on Carter’s childhood nickname of “Jazzy” and a reference to the J/Z subway station near his Brooklyn home.

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But even though he had a stage name, Jay-Z remained relatively anonymous until he and two friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, founded their own record label, Roc-a-Fella Records, in 1996. In June of that year, Jay-Z released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Although the record only reached No. 23 on the Billboard charts, it is now considered a classic Hip Hop album, featuring songs such as “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” featuring Mary J. Blige, and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a collaboration with Notorious B.I.G. Reasonable Doubt established Jay-Z as an emerging star in Hip Hop.

Two years later, Jay-Z achieved even broader success with the 1998 album Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life. The title track, which famously sampled its chorus from the Broadway musical Annie, became Jay-Z’s most popular single to date and won him his first Grammy nomination. “Hard Knock Life” marked the beginning of a fruitful period in which Jay-Z would become the biggest name in Hip Hop.

Over the span of those years, the rapper released a slew of No. 1 albums and hit singles. His most popular songs from this period include “Can I Get A …,” “Big Pimpin’,” “I Just Wanna Love U,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “03 Bonnie & Clyde,” a duet with future bride Beyoncé Knowles. Jay-Z’s most acclaimed album of this period was The Blueprint (2001), which would later land on many music critics’ lists of the best albums of the decade.

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In 2003, Jay-Z shocked the Hip Hop world by releasing The Black Album and announcing that it would be his last solo record before retirement. Asked to explain his sudden exit from rap, Jay-Z said that he once derived inspiration from trying to outshine other great MCs, but he had simply gotten bored due to a lack of competition. “The game ain’t hot,” he said. “I love when someone makes a hot album and then you’ve got to make a hot album. I love that. But it ain’t hot.”

During his hiatus from rapping, Jay-Z turned his attention to the business side of music, becoming president of Def Jam Recordings. As president of Def Jam, Jay-Z signed such popular acts as Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Young Jeezy and helped effect Kanye West’s transition from producer to bestselling recording artist. But his reign at the venerable Hip Hop label wasn’t all smooth sailing; Jay-Z resigned as Def Jam’s president in 2007, complaining about the company’s resistance to change from ineffectual business models. “You have record executives who’ve been sitting in their office for 20 years because of one act,” he lamented.

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Jay-Z’s other ongoing business ventures include the popular urban clothing line Rocawear and Roc-a-Fella films. He also owns the 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar with locations in New York and Atlantic City, and is a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise, which moved to a new home, the Barclays Center, in 2012. As Jay-Z once rapped about his business empire, “I’m not a businessman/ I’m a business, man.”

In 2006, Jay-Z ended his retirement from making music, releasing the new album Kingdom Come. He soon released two more albums: American Gangster in 2007 and Blueprint 3 in 2010. This trio of later albums marked a significant departure from Jay-Z’s earlier sound, incorporating stronger rock and soul influences in their production and offering lyrics tackling such mature subjects as the response to Hurricane Katrina, Barack Obama’s 2008 election and the perils of fame and fortune. Jay-Z has said he’s trying to adapt his music to befit his own middle age. “There’s not a lot of people who have come of age in rap because it’s only 30 years old,” he says. “As more people come of age, hopefully the topics get broader and then the audience will stay around longer.”

Hip Hop artist Jay Z performs at The Staples Center on December 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Hip Hop artist Jay Z performs at The Staples Center on December 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

In 2008, Jay-Z signed a $150 million contract with the concert promotion company Live Nation. This super deal created a joint venture called Roc Nation, an entertainment company that handles nearly all aspects of its artists’ careers. In addition to Jay-Z himself, Roc Nation manages Shakira, Kanye West, Timbaland and Rianna, among many others.

More recently, Jay-Z proved that he had both commercial and critical staying power. He teamed up with another famous member of rap royalty, Kanye West, for 2011’s Watch the Throne. The album proved to be a triple hit, topping the rap, R&B and pop charts that August. The song “Otis,” which samples the late R&B singer Otis Redding, snagged several Grammy Award nominations and the recording was also nominated for Best Rap Album.

Two years after the release of a collaboration album with West, both rappers dropped solo albums within weeks of the other’s release date. West’s album, Yeezus (2013), was critically lauded for its innovation, while his mentor Jay-Z’s album gained less than stellar reviews. The rappers 12th studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013), was seen as decent but failed to live up to the Hip Hop star’s larger-than-life reputation and his unhumbly titled album.

blame-sco

Very protective of his private life, Jay-Z did not publicly discuss his relationship with longtime girlfriend, popular singer and actress Beyoncé, for years. The couple even managed to keep the press away from their small wedding, which was held on April 4, 2008, in New York City. Only about 40 people attended the celebration at Jay-Z’s penthouse apartment, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow and former Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé welcomed their first child, a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter, on January 7, 2012.

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Official site: Jay Z

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Discography

Movies

Paper Soldiers

Paper Soldiers

Paper Soldiers follows an overeager burglar named Shawn (Kevin Hart) through the ups and downs of his short, stressful career....

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State Property

State Property

Frustrated with being broke, Beans decides that the only way to grasp the American Dream is to take it....

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Streets is Watching

Streets is Watching

Hip-hop artist Jay-Z tells a story about life in the streets, combining a narrative structure and musical numbers into an autobiographical t...

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Live 8

Live 8

On 2 July 2005 an estimated 3 billion people came together in the fight against extreme poverty. LIVE 8 - 10 concerts featuring over 1000 mu...

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Beef IV

Beef IV

Beef IV is the fourth installment of the Beef series. It is a documentary about Hip hop rivalries and beefs (arguments). It was released on ...

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Fade to Black

Fade to Black

An intimate look at hip-hop artist Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, revealing the multiple Grammy Award winning artist as never before, from his backgro...

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Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour

Beyoncé: I Am... World Tour

108 shows, 78 cities, 32 countries, 6 continents, 1.1 million fans. Beyoncé’s I Am... World Tour captures concert footage from numerous s...

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Jay-Z Live From Madison Square Garden: Answer The Call

Jay-Z Live From Madison Square Garden: Answer The Call

Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z in concert with star guests from Madison Sqaure Garden, New York City on the eighth anniversary of the September 11 ...

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DJ SWB Volume 6 - This Is How We Do

DJ SWB Volume 6 - This Is How We Do

DJ SWB is back at it again with his crazyyyy video mixes, and this time YUNG JOC and LUPE FIASCO lend a helping hand by hosting over 107 min...

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DJ Juice - The King is Back Mixtape Blend Dvd Vol. 70

DJ Juice - The King is Back Mixtape Blend Dvd Vol. 70

DJ Juice is making his dope DVD blend again and this time its time for volume 70!! So just lay back and relax to some dope music videos from...

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DJ Cinema Presents: Masterpiece Theater Blend Dvd

DJ Cinema Presents: Masterpiece Theater Blend Dvd

DJ Cinema is mixing up blends with artists like Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, AZ, Rick Ross, Fabolous, 50 Cent and Jadakiss....

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Jay-Z and Linkin Park - Collision Course

Jay-Z and Linkin Park - Collision Course

The Once-in-a-Lifetime performance, captured live July 18th, 2004 at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, CA. In this revealing documentary, ...

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Hope for Haiti

Hope for Haiti

Telethon concert in support of relief organizations dedicated to assisting victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010....

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Rihanna: Live at Hackney Weekend 2012

Rihanna: Live at Hackney Weekend 2012

Ever since her arrival on planet pop at the age of 16, Rihanna has used her dazzling star power to climb to the top of the celeb ranks, amas...

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Backstage

Backstage

If you ever wanted to know what really goes on backstage, this is the definitive inside look - uncut and uncensored. Complete with on-stage ...

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Jay-Z Live In Brooklyn

Jay-Z Live In Brooklyn

It’s been a long time since the rapper-turned-mogul played an intimate show. But he managed to do just that, in front of a crowd of 18,000...

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Jay-Z: Made in America

Jay-Z: Made in America

Hip-hop artist Jay-Z organizes the "Budweiser Made In America" music festival....

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Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives

Exploring the social impact of what The Source Magazine in 1998 voted, "The Best Hip Hop Radio Show Of All-Time." The documentary film is th...

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Picasso Baby

Picasso Baby

Jay Z performs Picasso Baby at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC....

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The MC: Why We Do It

The MC: Why We Do It

"The MC: Why We Do It" takes a look inside the world of Hip Hop and MCs to explore the issues and concerns that define todays most popular m...

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The Blackout - Fat Joe Vs Jay-Z At The Rucker

The Blackout - Fat Joe Vs Jay-Z At The Rucker

If you’re a fan of basketball, or if you’re from New York City, you have heard about Rucker Park, the legendary sports center in Harlem....

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On the Run Tour: Beyoncé and Jay Z

On the Run Tour: Beyoncé and Jay Z

Beyoncé and Jay Z perform live in Paris at Stade de France during their 2014 "On the Run Tour."...

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John Mayer: Someday I'll Fly

John Mayer: Someday I'll Fly

John Mayer: Someday I'll Fly chronicles the musical evolution of one of the most influential solo artists of his generation. Featuring rare ...

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Tidal X: Jaÿ-Z B-Sides Concert

Tidal X: Jaÿ-Z B-Sides Concert

Jay-Z B-Sides Concert Sponsored by Tidal Performed at New York's Terminal 5 a setlist stocked with never-before-performed-live fan favorites...

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Jay Z: Live at the Royal Albert Hall

Jay Z: Live at the Royal Albert Hall

The Jay Z Royal Albert Hall concert marks the first time that a hip hop act has headlined at the 135 year old London venue. The event follow...

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J. Cole Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming

J. Cole Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming

One of music’s biggest stars returns home to Fayetteville, NC, delivering a riveting performance in the exclusive HBO presentation J. COLE...

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Lemonade

Lemonade

The second "visual album" (a collection of short films) by Beyoncé, this time around she takes a piercing look at racial issues and feminis...

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Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream

Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream

A portrait of Beyoncé strips away the veneer of stardom to display the extraordinary gifts that have made this 16-time Grammy®-winner, ent...

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RD20

RD20

The documentary tracks the making of Reasonable Doubt, Hova's rise to stardom, and the legacy of the iconic album. Directed by Scheme Engine...

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Money, Power, Respect: Hip Hop Billion Dollar Industry

Money, Power, Respect: Hip Hop Billion Dollar Industry

Who of the icons Jay-Z, Diddy, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre becomes the first dollar billionaire?...

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Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G.

The first authorized biography of Christopher Wallace, allowing Christopher to narrate his own life story. Using archival footage and previo...

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So So Def All-Star 20th Anniversary Concert

So So Def All-Star 20th Anniversary Concert

Jermaine Dupri's longtime friends, collaborators and So So Def Recordings' alumni celebrate the label's 20-year anniversary....

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The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour

The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour

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Mariah Carey: #1's

Mariah Carey: #1's

1's is Mariah Carey's sixth DVD/video release. It contains 14 of Mariah' s #1 hits such as Heartbreaker, My All, Honey, Al ways Be My Baby, ...

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The Concert for New York City

The Concert for New York City

The Concert for New York City took place on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden. It was a celebration of the strength of New York and ...

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Kanye West: College Dropout - Video Anthology

Kanye West: College Dropout - Video Anthology

A collection of music videos and behind the scenes footage released to promote Kanye West's upcoming debut album, College Dropout. The compi...

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Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life

Notorious B.I.G.: Bigger Than Life

The greatest rapper to ever pick up a mic - with his velvety flow and unparalleled rhyme style he captivated everyone from Jay Z to Tupac. N...

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Beef

Beef

A documentary on the evolution of MC battles from verbal one-upmanship to street warfare....

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Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

This intimate, in-depth look at Beyoncé's celebrated 2018 Coachella performance reveals the emotional road from creative concept to cultura...

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Quincy

Quincy

An intimate look into the life of icon Quincy Jones. A unique force in music and popular culture for 70 years, Jones has transcended racial ...

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R. Kelly: The R. in R&B - The Video Collection

R. Kelly: The R. in R&B - The Video Collection

This DVD/CD combination package features all of R. Kelly's biggest music videos from the first 10 years of his career, and one of the most p...

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Paid in Full

Paid in Full

Ace is an impressionable young man working for a dry cleaning business. His friend, drug dealer Mitch goes to prison. In an unrelated incide...

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbo...

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Annie

Annie

Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parent...

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Top Five

Top Five

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show....

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Jay-Z: Made in America

Jay-Z: Made in America

Hip-hop artist Jay-Z organizes the "Budweiser Made In America" music festival....

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Kanye West: College Dropout - Video Anthology

Kanye West: College Dropout - Video Anthology

A collection of music videos and behind the scenes footage released to promote Kanye West's upcoming debut album, College Dropout. The compi...

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RD20

RD20

The documentary tracks the making of Reasonable Doubt, Hova's rise to stardom, and the legacy of the iconic album. Directed by Scheme Engine...

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