From hustling on the streets of Brooklyn to a building a billion-dollar legacy, Jay-Z is a clear embodiment of the rag-top-riches story.
Here are 10 facts about one of rap music’s legends
1. Jay-Z’s real name is Shawn Cory Carter. He was born in the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn on December 4th, 1969. His father abandoned his family, and he and his siblings were raised by their mother.
2. At age 12, Jay-Z shot his older brother for stealing his jewellery. Although he was scared he would go to jail at first, his brother never pressed charges and they reconciled while he was in the hospital.
3. He attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with both The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes. During those years, he sold drugs and was shot at three times.
4. He was first known as Jazzy around his neighbourhood before he adopted the stage name of Jay-Z to pay homage to his musical mentor Jaz-O.
5. Jay-Z lived in London for some time in the late 1980s. Whie he stayed there, he learned as much as he could from the culture before he returned back to the US to embark on his music career.
6. When he was still an upcoming rapper, he tried to gain steam by featuring on other artist’s albums. But that was not enough. So, he began selling CDs out of his car. He went to create the record label label Roc-A-Fella Records with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs.
7. Michael Jackson secretly sang the background vocals for his hit song “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Jay-Z revealed this in an interview with NME. “He was on my song ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’, singing these background vocals and I didn’t even put his name on it.”
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8. Jay-Z is the co-founder of the 40/40 Club in New York City, a classy sports bar and lounge.
9. In 2015, Jay-Z acquired Aspiro, the media technology company in charge of the music streaming service Tidal. He revamped the platform and transformed it into a high definition streaming service.
10. On his album 4:44, Jay-Z revealed that his mother, Gloria Carter, is a lesbian. “For my mother to have to life as someone she wasn’t, hide and protect her kids … for all this time, for her to sit in front of me and tell me, ‘I think I love someone,’ I really cried … I was so happy for her that she was free … I knew [that that she was gay], but this was the first time we had the conversation, the first time I heard her say she loved her partner. She said, ‘I feel like I love somebody.’ She held that little bit back still – she didn’t say, ‘I’m in love’ … And I just started crying.”
11. Today, Jay-Z has an estimated network of $1 billion, making him the richest rapper in the world.