30 Shining Facts About Jay-Z

July 15, 2020 | Sammy Tran

30 Shining Facts About Jay-Z

“I swear I met success, we lived together shortly / Success is like lust, she’s good for the touch / She’s good for the moment but she’s never enough”

From hustling on the streets of Brooklyn to closing in on a personal value of a billion dollars, Jay-Z is a representation of the contrasts of America.

Jay-Z Facts

30. S. Carter

Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter in the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn on December 4th, 1969. His father abandoned his family, and he and his three siblings were raised by their mother.

Jay-Z factsFlickr, Rich Thane

29. Rapping Schoolmates

Carter bounced around high schools for a few years, and attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with both The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes. During these years he sold drugs, notably crack cocaine, and was shot at several times.

Jay-Z facts Flickr, Matt J Carbone

28. Cain and Abel

At the age of 12, Carter shot his older brother for stealing his jewellery. At the time, he was terrified he’d spend his life in jail, but his brother didn’t press charges, and they reconciled while he was in the hospital.

Missing Person FactsPixabay

27. What's In a Name

Originally known as Jazzy around his neighborhood, he adopted the stage name of Jay-Z to pay homage to his musical mentor Jaz-O.

Jay-Z facts Wikipedia

26. British Jay

For a brief time in the late 1980s, Jay lived in London, where he took in everything he could from their culture, before returning back to the states to embark on his career.

Jay-Z facts Wikipedia

25. Rising Through The Ranks

During the early 1990s, Jay-Z would fill in as a freestyling hype man for Big Daddy Kane. During this time, he began to make appearances on up and coming New York rappers' songs, including Big L, DMX, and Ja Rule.

Jay-Z facts Getty Images

24. Pop The Trunk

As a local rapper trying to gain steam, featuring on other rappers albums wasn't enough. So, is classic NY hustler style, Jay began selling CDs out of his car. Soon after he would create the independent label Roc-A-Fella Records with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs.

Jay-Z facts Wikimedia Commons, David Shankbone

Damon Dash

23. Taste of Success

Reasonable Doubt would be Jay-Z’s first album, and it is now considered an all-time classic. He was able to strike a distribution deal with Priority Records, which allowed for a wide release of the album, and a platform for it to reach #23 on the Billboard 200.

Jay-Z factsShutterstock

22. B.I.G Death

Jay-Z was close friends with The Notorious B.I.G., and after his death Jay went through a depressive period, using his strife to record In My Lifetime Vol. 1, which was produced by Biggie’s friend Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs.

Jay-Z facts Flickr, InSapphoWeTrust

21. Last Call

One of the last people to talk to The Notorious B.I.G. before he was murdered, Jay-Z spoke to him on the phone only hours before his shooting.

Jay-Z facts Getty Images

20. It’s a Hard Knock Life

With the previous success of his first two albums, Jay-Z reached a massive new height with the release of his Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life album, featuring the song "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)." In order to acquire the famous sample for this song, Jay lied to Annie composers Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, claiming that he not only saw the play on Broadway as a child but also won an essay-writing contest about the work.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

19. Platinum Jay

Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life went on to become his most commercially successful album, going 5x Platinum with over 5 million copies sold, and earning him his first Grammy nomination. However, Jay would boycott the awards ceremony because DMX didn't receive a nomination.

Jay-Z factsShutterstock

18. Platform For Success

Through the years, Jay-Z introduced many talented rappers and producers to a wider audience, thus helping propel their careers forward. On his album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, he featured the newcomers Just Blaze, Kanye West, and The Neptunes with super producer Pharrell Williams.

Jay-Z factsShutterstock

17. Rap Beef

2001 would prove to be a pivotal year in the career of Jay-Z. Early in the year, he would feud with both Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas. His feud with Nas would prove to be one of the most notorious rap beefs in history. He would also release a highly praised album, The Blueprint, on September 11th, 2001. He references this coincidence on his later song “The Bounce” with the lyric “rumor has it / the Blueprint classic / couldn’t even be stopped by Bin Laden.”


16. Top of the Head

Jay is known for not writing his lyrics. Instead, he records his songs off of the top of his head, editing for lyrics live on the mic.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

15. Retirement

In 2003, he would retire for the first time after the release of his Black Album. He would only stay officially retired for three years; he was still working in the music industry and realized retirement wasn’t the right direction for him to go in.

Jay-Z factsWikimedia Commons, Mikamote

14. MJ

On Jay-Z's hit single "Girls, Girls, Girls," an uncredited Michael Jackson can be heard singing the background vocals.

Jay-Z factsWikimedia Commons

13. Got to Give It up

Marvin Gaye was Jay-Z's earliest musical memory from his parent's house, and he has made it a point to feature many samples from the late legend's catalog in his music.

Jay-Z factsWikimedia Commons

12. Sport Club

Jay-Z co-owns the 40/40 Club in New York City, a high-class sports bar and lounge.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

11. Sports Agent

He founded the sports agency Roc Nation Sports and is now a certified sports agent for the MLB and NBA, representing several of the sport's biggest stars.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

10. Brooklyn Basketball

Jay owned part of the Brooklyn Nets, buying in when they were still in New Jersey, and helped their relocation bid to Brooklyn in 2012. He was also a figure behind the building of the Barclay’s Center before relinquishing his shares in the team and arena in 2013.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

9. Money To The Musicians

In 2015, he bought Aspiro, the media technology company that operates music streaming service Tidal. He reworked Tidal and launched it as a high definition streaming service that attempts to divert revenue back to the actual artists themselves.

Jay-Z factsShutterstock

8. Power Couple

After dating for some time, Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles married in 2008. The couple is famously private about their lives, and they believe this privacy has helped them maintain their high profile relationship throughout the years.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

7. Princess Blue

After the birth of their first child in 2012, Jay recorded a track dedicated to his daughter Blue Ivy Carter entitled "Glory." Blue Ivy, just two days old at the time, can be heard on the song, making her officially the youngest person to ever be credited on a song that reached the Billboard charts.

Jay-Z factsFlickr, Janne Wittoeck

6. Giving Back

Jay-Z has been noted for his philanthropic work, donating $1 million to the Red Cross after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

5. BusinessMAN

In the mid-2000s, Jay-Z turned his attention to business and became president of Def Jam records. During this time, he signed several popular acts, including Rihanna. However, in 2008 he would step down due to frustration in the stagnant business side of music, as many executives in the company resisted the change he wanted to make.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

4. To The Hall

In 2017, Jay became the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame; it was a watershed moment for hip-hop.

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

Jon Platt accepting the award 

3. G.O.A.T

To this date, Jay-Z has sold more than 100 millions records worldwide, and has received 21 Grammy Awards. He also holds the record for most #1 albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 and has had four number one songs on the Billboard 100 (though only "Empire State of Mind" in 2009 was his own track).

Jay-Z factsGetty Images

2. Rags to Riches

The sum of his career currently sits, monetarily, at an estimated net worth of $810 million. This makes him the second richest hip-hop artist in the world, behind Sean Combs. Combined with Beyonce, the couple is worth an estimated $1.16 billion.

Jay-Z factsFlickr, Rich Thane

1. Bootlegging

Jay-Z pled guilty to stabbing record producer Lance Rivera at a 1999 party, all because he suspected that Rivera had been the person behind the bootlegging of Jay’s album Vol. 3...Life and Times of S. Carter. He was convicted of a second-degree felony and served a three-year probation sentence.

Jay-Z factsWikimedia Commons, everyskyline

Sources:  12

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