Jay-Z is an American rap musician, producer and entrepreneur, and one of the most commercially successful recording artists in America. He was born as Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969 but is better known by his stage name of Jay-Z. His beginnings were humble as he lived in a housing project in Brooklyn, New York with his mother Gloria Carter and his three older siblings. His father, Adnes Reeves, walked out on the family when he was 11 years old. Jay-Z attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn and sold drugs on the street to help supplement his mother’s income when he was a teenager. At school he was friends with Christopher Wallace, who become the future rap superstar “Notorious B.I.G.”.
In 1989, Jay-Z made his first rap appearance with the rapper Jaz-O and the duo recorded a song called “The Originators” which procured them an appearance on MTV on an episode of “Yo! MTV Raps”. He continued to make music but did not achieve much success until he founded his own record label by the name of Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996, along with two of his friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke. In June 1996, Jay-Z launched his debut album titled “Reasonable Doubt” which reached No. 23 on the Billboard charts. In 1997 he released his second album titled “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1” followed by his second album released in 1998, titled “Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life” for which he earned a Grammy nomination. This marked the beginning of his successful career as a rapper and in the intervening years, Jay-Z launched a number of bestselling albums such as “Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter” in 1999, “The Blueprint” in 2001, “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse” in 2002 and “The Black Album” in 2003.
In 2003, Jay-Z announced his intention of retirement from the world of rap, choosing instead to focus on producing albums and giving time to his business. He became the president of Def Jam Recordings, an American record label owned by Universal Music Group, where he signed renowned artists such as Rihanna and Ne-Yo, and helped the famous rapper Kanye West move from music production to a career in rap. Despite his earlier intention to retire from rap music, Jay-Z recorded a new album in 2006 titled “Kingdom Come”, followed by “American Gangster” in 2007 and “Blueprint 3” in 2010. His later albums were commended for the quality of the lyrics, which had evolved into more mature themes such as the downside of his fame and the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, Jay-Z signed a $150 million deal with a concert promotion company called Live Nation, and created a joint venture called Roc Nation. In 2011, he appeared on Kanye West’s album titled “Watch the Throne” which topped the pop, rap and R&B charts.
Jay-Z dated the popular American singer Beyoncé Knowles for a long time, and the couple got married in an exclusive ceremony held at their apartment in 2008. Jay-Z is very protective of his privacy and doesn’t like to discuss his private life in the media. The couple’s first child, a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter, was born on January 7, 2012. Jay-Z is currently one of the most popular rappers and rap music producers in the world and according to Forbes, has an estimated net worth of $520 million in 2014.