Jay-Z, real name Shawn Corey Carter, needs little introduction. Born 4th December 1969 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jay Z’s life story reads like a fairy-tale story, escaping the “streets” and selling drugs, and against all odds, becoming one of the most successful rappers and businessmen in the world.
In the early days Jay Z was known as “Jazzy” before changing his name to Jay-Z (to avoid confusion with fellow rapper Jaz-O), it was around this time that Jay Z was to begin his empire – with the creation of Roc-A-Fella Records, which he set up in 1995 as a platform to release his music, after no record label would give him a record deal.
His first few albums, notably In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. (1996); caught the attention of the public, and it reached Platinum in the U.S. Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life emulated the success of his first two albums and went 5x Platinum. Hit singles from the album include "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" and "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)" (featuring Amil & Big Jaz) by über producer Timbaland. It was around this time that rumours began circulating that Jay-Z was dating Beyoncé from R&B girl group Destiny’s Child.
By the late ‘90s Jay-Z had already established himself as a major player in the rap and hip-hop world with the success of Vol 3…Life and Times of S. Carter and the rest of series, although his former life did not escaped him completely, and he went on to serve three years for the stabbing of producer Lance "Un" Rivera, which only fuelled his resolve to work harder and be better than any other rappers on the scene.
Jay-Z released ‘The Dynasty: Roc La Familia’ (2000) which showcased other producers on his label: Just Blaze, Kanye West, Bink! and The Neptunes, which would later act as a stepping stone for many of these upcoming hip-hop stars.
By the early 2000s, Jay-Z was en route to stardom. He released The Blueprint and The Blueprint 2; The Gift & The Curse which went straight to number one and featured his now wife, Beyoncé. He also embarked on a tour with R&B super star R. Kelly to coincide with their album ‘Best of Both Worlds’, although this ended quickly after an altercation occurred between the two stars.
In 2003, Jay-Z continued to stun the world with his amazing lyrical skills and went on produce his 8th album – The Black Album, which contained every major hip-producer, and become featured his most notable hits including “99 Problems”. Unbelievably, at the same time his career was reaching the pinnacle of his career; Jay-Z announced his “retirement from the hip-hop world”.
Following his retirement from hip-hop, Jay-Z went on to defy his critics by working with rock outfit Lincoln Park on their EP Collision Course. Jay-Z went on to win a Grammy and perform with Lincoln Park live at the Grammys in 2004.
Jay-Z took the next step in his career by announcing his next turn in his career – President of Def Jam Records and finally decided to end his on-going feud with rival Nas by performing with him at New York's Power 105.1 annual concert, Powerhouse. The pair infamously shook hands and performed Jay-Z’ hit “dead Presidents” along with Nas’ song “The World is Yours” ending years of rivalry.
In 2008 Jay-Z had another life-defining moment when he was asked to perform at the 2008 Glastonbury on the main Pyramid Stage, defying purists that Glastonbury was a ‘rock festival’ and performed to a sold out Glastonbury. He then went on to rap at a number of other music festivals including Wireless Festival.
By 2009 Jay-Z swept the world with his multi-national success The Blueprint 3, and toured North America. The following year he worked with Bono (U2) and rising star Rihanna, for the Hope For Haiti Now telethon, raising money for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
Jay-Z collaborated with rapper Kanye West on album, Watch The Throne (2011). Hit singles from the album include “Otis" and Billboard hits "H•A•M" and "Niggas in Paris". He recorded the album in various locations and worked with Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, and Mr Hudson to produce the collection.
Outside of his music career he launched his own clothing brand - Rocawear along with his own sports bar chain 40/40 which has opened in the US and is growing fast, with expansion into South East Asia imminent.