The beautifully complex progression and development of Hip-Hop as a culture and genre would not be the same without the incredibly ongoing successful career of the now forty-six year old Brooklyn native MC and Entrepreneur, "Jay Z". "Shawn Carter" was raised in the infamous Marcy Projects of Brooklyn, New York during the epidemic of the Crack Era whilst indulging in the, "Golden Age" of Hip-Hop. Carter grew up in a household that was full of music and rightfully so he was inspired to become an MC through listening to Hip-Hop icons such as, "Run DMC" and "Kurtis Blow".
In this documentary, close family members and friends said Carter was always into being the best at anything he did and took it upon himself to be just that as an MC by practicing his flow for hours and by reading anything he could get his hands on to expand his vocabulary. This would help Carter develop his own unique and impressively skilled flow that would land him the nickname "Jazzy" from a fellow neighborhood friend and eventually Carter would change his moniker to, "Jay Z ". Jay Z was known for perfecting the fast tongue rapping that is akin to his childhood friend and schoolmate also known as, "Busta Rhymes".
After appearing in his first music video with mentor and MC, "Jaz" for the unsuccessful song, "Hawaiian Sophie", Jay Z realized that he needed to become his own artist. Thus, he dropped out of High School and would make money on the streets selling drugs during the Crack Epidemic to support his family and his dreams of becoming an independently successful MC. Jay, like most Brooklyn MC's, looked up to the Hip-Hop legend, "Big Daddy Kane" and thus the night he destroyed Kane in a Freestyle battle in the early 1990 would lead to Jay recording a demo with Kane. Kane would take Jay-Z under his wing and would bring him on tour which further exposed Jay-Z to a mass audience but still his music and his style was not translating into a record deal. This would force Jay Z back into a place where he thought he could not make it as an MC and began hustling on the streets again to increase his financial capital.
After many failed meetings with record labels, Jay Z's friend convinced Jay to try his hand at showcasing his unbelievable talent as an MC by hooking Jay up with his friend, "Damon Dash" to manage him. From the beginning, Damon and Jay-Z clicked as if they had known each other forever and from there Jay Z's career would begin to move in the right direction.
Once Jay appeared on, "Original Flavor's" hot single, "Can I Get Open", it would land him on tour with Original Flavor all over the East Coast. After dealing with more failed attempts to get a legitimate Record Label deal, Dame and Jay decided to put their own brand together starting with the song in 1994 called, "I Can't Get Wit Dat".
In 1995, Jay Z and Damon put together their money to start their very own record label, "Roc-A-Fella" Records named after the prestigious and wealthy, "Rockefeller" family. The first single they would push for before Jay Z released his debut album would be, "Dead Presidents" which would become a huge success. This would properly set Jay Z up to release his classic debut album, "Reasonable Doubt" in 1996 that features some of Jay Z's best songs in, "Can't Knock The Hustle", "Feelin It", "Can I Live" and "Aint No Nigga". Over time, this album would become acclaimed a classic Hip-Hop album by many Hip-Hop enthusiasts and respected Hip-Hop publications respectively.
Jay Z's debut album would be the launch pad for his musical career that would catapult him into his journey into becoming one of the most influential and successful MC's in Hip-Hop history. To date, Jay Z is one of the best selling artists of all time with his cumulative album sales totaling over 100 million records and receiving 21 Grammy Awards for his musical work. To date, Jay Z has released 12 studio albums with more than half of them considered as some of the best Hip-Hop albums ever received with the projects, "Reasonable Doubt", "Volume 2: Hard Knock Life" and "The Blueprint".
As an entrepreneur, Jay Z is one of the first figures in Hip-Hop history to be just as successful with his brand as a businessman that he is as a musical artist by owning the "40/40" Club, owning his own Sports Agency, a clothing line, "Rocawear" and the entertainment company "Roc Nation". These investments along with his very high business acumen allowed Jay Z to build his net worth up above $500 million dollars.
Undoubtedly, Jay Z has paved the way for many artists and entrepreneurs alike to follow his path to becoming very successful as a businessman and a respected musical artist as well. We encourage you to check out his lengthy discography here and some of his best work below!