«If I don't show the world growth, how are we going to grow?» from December 2007 XXL Interview
Jay-Z became a significant figure in the history of rap in the USA and the changes his work entailed were revolutionary. Actually he did not confine himself with music only, but participated in a great number of projects from clothing trademark to Scottish vodka, from sports bar owning to promotion activities of some talented rap singers, who have become known to the whole world thanks to Jay-Z.
His way from his birth on the 4th of December, 1969 in New York was full of ups and downs. There was not big choice for the child born in the Marcy's house of Brooklyn but to become a hustler to overcome hardships. The family had enough of them as father abandoned family when Shawn Carter (that's the real name of Jay-Z) was small. But the boy dreamt of different career. He liked to rap since early childhood and started doing it in the street after his father left. That helped him to avoid desperation and disappointment. At first he called himself Jazzy, but later changed it into another nickname, which is famous all over the world at present. Though there were other names too. You can come across Hov, Hova and Jiggaman as well.
The friends of his childhood also entered the world of show business. But at times big stars of show business became his friends. One of them was Christopher Wallace or Notorious B.I.G.
Jay-Z has a phenomenal memory and can memorize much without writing down. He just keeps all the stuff right in his head until the record begins and then free floating follows just from his head and beautiful song seem to appear from nowhere.
Being aware of the problems many rappers face Jay-Z decided to become a businessman himself not to be exploited by record companies. The common practice demonstrates that that happens so frequently. But the creation of the company requires much money. Big sums are needed to cover studio costs and other expenses therefore Jay-Z starts his own business projects. He coped with this task excellently and now reaps the harvest. No company uses fruits of his work without his permission to do so. Talented businessman undertook unprecedented efforts when he created record company with Damon Dash assistance. Kareem "Biggs" Burke also participated in it. This way they managed to save the expenses on multiple middlemen, who earn tons of money on the performers of rap songs. Roc-A-Fella Records implemented dream of Jay-Z to be independent to some extent, the way it is possible to do in the world of show business. It was agreed that Priority Records will be responsible for the album distribution.
The name of the first album was Reasonable Doubt, which became a hit with a gold single at that. Nevertheless the wide audience was not impressed much with it. So there was always risk that it would all fail after all. But the third album of Jay-Z brought him reward he dreamt about. Being a business-minded singer, Jay-Z launched a tour working further over the popularity. A sequence of sad events also contributed to popularity of Jay-Z. Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. went away from life and remained him alone on the peak of popularity and no other rap-star beside. This way Jay-Z becomes the king of rap on the east coast. The following 5 years became like a golden rain for Jay-Z. Ten million records sales brought Jay-Z fortune, but he was not going to stop. One hit followed another. "The Originator's", "Can I Get Open", "Streets Is Watching", "Ain't No N**a", "Can't Knock the Hustle", "You Must Love Me", and "Feelin It" are just some of the hits which brought him world fame. But Jay-Z became not just popular singer, he turned into a cultural symbol for many and the icon of the epoch. The studio he created grew further and produced films. Such films as "Streets is Watching", "State Property", "Backstage" were created by them.
Other feature films are going to be released. They are Paper Soldiers, Paid in Full, and Death of a Dynasty among them. Just as many other celebrities he started a clothing line named Rocawear.
From 1999 the company has grown up to $150 million within two years with outlets in other countries selling garments and accessories. Roc-a-fella also sold Armadale Premium, Scottish vodka made of two kinds of grain. He opened in New York 40/40 Club Elite sports bar. Jay-Z also received a signature shoe from Reebok though he is not an athlete.
Who else can boast of a number of protégés and seventeen million albums sold? Jay-Z finds time for everything and for charity too. There is Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund for poor children from the Marcy district as well as Santa Claus surprises for Brooklyn kids arranged specially by Jay-Z.
1999 is marked for Jay-Z because video for the song "Can I Get A..." was highly appreciated and was acknowledged as the Best Rap Video. In 2001 Jay-Z received Grammy award in the nomination Best Rap Album.
On December 11, 2009, Jay-Z was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of 2000s by Billboard and ranking as the 5th top solo male artist and as the 4th top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent. He is also ranked the 88th greatest artist of all time, according to Rolling Stone.
He married American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles on April 4, 2008. They gave birth to a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter in January 2012.