Shawn Corey Carter was born on December 4th, 1969 weighing in at 10 pounds, 8 ounces. Shawn was born to mother Gloria Carter and father Adnes Reeves who left Shawn and his family when he was 11 years old.
Originally Jay-Z is from 'Marcy Houses' housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Jay-Z attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down. Shortly after he attended George Westinghouse Information Technology High School in Downtown Brooklyn along with late great rapper The Notorious B.I.G and Busta Rhymes. Jay-Z also attended Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey but didn't graduate.
According to his music his lack of reaching graduation was due to his choice of selling drugs. His mother Gloria Carter, has mentioned that a young Jay-Z used to wake his siblings up at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. Eventually, she bought him a boom box for his birthday and thus sparked his interest in music. He began freestyling, writing rhymes, and followed the music of many artists popular at the time.
In his neighborhood, Carter was known as "Jazzy", a nickname that eventually developed into his stage name, "Jay-Z". The name Jay-Z is also a homage to his musical mentor, Jaz-O, as well as to the J/Z subway lines that have a stop at Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. Jay-Z can be heard on several of Jaz-O's early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including "The Originators" and "Hawaiian Sophie". His career had a jump start when he battled a rapper by the name of Zai. The battle caught the eye of many record labels, as Jay-Z was able to hold his own against Zai. He first became known to a wide audience by being featured on the posse cut "Show and Prove" on the 1994 Big Daddy Kane album 'Daddy's Home' He also made an appearance on a popular song by late Harlem rapper Big L, "Da Graveyard", and on Mic Geronimo's "Time to Build", which also featured early appearances by fellow rappers DMX, Q-Man, Ja-Rule and Shazim Hasan in 1995. His first official rap single was called "I Can't Get With That", for which he also released a music video.
In 1996 Jay-Z released his first studio album 'Reasonable Doubt'. At the time no major label gave him a record deal. So with the help of Dame Dash, and Kareem "Biggs" Burke the three came together and created Roc-A-Fella Records as their own independent label. Priority gave Jay-Z an opportunity to distribute his material. His first album featured beats from producers such as DJ Premier and Clark Kent and it featured an appearance from friend, former classmate and fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G. Reasonable Doubt only reached number 23 on the Billboard 200 but it was a critical success.
Reasonable doubt was supposed to be Jay's one and only album but his unconditional love for Hip-Hop kept him coming back to the studio.
"Got intense, real intense as we got older, never thought that it would lead to me poppin' one in your shoulder. 'Where my rings?' knew you had it cause you took too long, As Mickey, Annie and the girl that Bought it looked on, Huffin and puffin Gun in my hand, told you 'Step Outside' Hopin you said no but you hurt my pride, made our way down the steps, maybe you thought it was just a threat, or maybe your life was just that crazy and you was beggin for death tryna justify this in my young mind but adrenaline and my ego hurt combined drove me beserk, saw the devil in ya eye, High of more than weed Confused i just closed my young eyes and squeezed."
The album sold better than his first release, and went platinum as well as the first. Although some dedicated fans felt he had "sold out". However, the album did feature some beats from producers who had worked with him on Reasonable Doubt, namely DJ Premier and Ski.
In 1998 His third album produced the biggest hit of his career at the time, "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" which was also the name of the album, Vol 2... Hard Knock Life. Among being one of my favorite albums by him in has some sort of sentimental value for me because my uncle 'Mahogany' produced "It's Alright" no. 13 on the album. So everytime I go to my grandmothers house till this day I'm fortunate enough to look at the Platinum Plaque hung in her living room. Something that helped Jay make this a top-selling album was his use of flow and brilliant wordplay. He also continued his penchant for mining beats from the popular producers of the time such as Swizz Beatz, and Timbaland.
Charting hits from this album included "Can I Get A...", featuring Ja-Rule and Amil, and "Nigga What, Nigga Who", which featured Amil as well. Vol. 2 would eventually become Jay-Z's most commercially successful album; it was certified 5x platinum in the United States and has to date sold over 8 million worldwide. The album went on to win a Grammy Award, although Jay-Z boycotted the ceremony protesting DMX's failure to garner a Grammy nomination.
By 2001 After releasing Vol.3 and The Dynasty in 99' and in 2000 Jay released yet another Amazing album called 'The Blueprint'. The album was later considered by many to be one of Hip-Hop's "Classic" albums. The Source magazine gave it a 5 Mic rating, which is rare for any artist or album to recieve. The album was released around the time of the September 11th attacks which overshadowed its success. Despit all of this it still managed to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 427,000 units. In the US 'The Blueprint' has been certified two-time platinum. Rapper and producer Eminem was the only guest appearance on the album. He produced and rapped along Jay-Z on the track "Renegade" Four of the thirteen tracks on the album were produced by Kanye West, making it one of Kanye's first major breaks in the music industry.
It was on this album on the song "Takeover" where the beef between Jay and Nas became public. Supposedly tension between the two dates as far back as 1996, when NaS refused to make a guest appearance on Hov's first album. The rivalry got a little bigger than anyone expected but has since come to an end, especially after Jay-Z brought NaS out on stage at a concert he had in 2005. They even appeared on NaS' "Hip Hop is Dead Album" on the track entitled 'Black Republican'
Jay had retired from recording after the release of his 2003 album 'The Black Album', he went on to become the president of Def jam Records and co-owner of the New jersey Nets. There was talk of moving the Nets to Brooklyn but no such thing has happened yet.
Although staying away seemed difficult for Jay-Z as he returned with the album 'Kingdom Come' in 2006 and released again in 2007 with 'American Gangster'. 'American Gangster' was an album he recorded as a tribute to the Life of Frank Lucas the man who's life was being portrayed on the Big Screen by Denzel Washington. Jay-Z felt that his life was the same in many ways to the life of Frank Lucas and so he decided to make the album which was an unofficial soundtrack to the movie. Jay has since married R&B sensation Beyonce Knowles and hasnt's stopped working wether it be in music or in business he's not showing any signs of slowing down and he's been at the top for a long time now.
Anyone who knows me knows that this is my favorite rapper of all time. I became a fan when I was 10 years old in 5th grade when "Can I Get A..." was on the radio, ever since then i followed his career and didnt miss an Album release. Freshman year I must have listened to 'The Blueprint" every single day to and from school and even in school. thats back before I had an ipod and I use to hate carrying a whole bunch of CD's so I use to just put that one in my CD player and head out. I learned the lyrics to every song on the album including the hidden tracks at the end. I often hear people verbally bashing him and saying things like "He's not the nicest" or things of that nature and although I hate getting into "Hip-Hop Discussions/Arguments" I often find myself defending him and reminding people how great he is. Honestly the man is a problem nuff said, anyone who feels the need to srgue the fact, Im right here in the words of the man himself "COME AND GET MEEEE"
Give you 5 cash if you know what song and what album that came from. Stay Up and Stay tuned. More to come on Tha Bull Pen's Black History month!