Jay-Z: 24 Facts

2009-10-23 12:11

1. Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter, grew up in Marcy Houses, a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
2. He was abandoned by his father, Adnes Reeves (now deceased) when he was 12 years old.
3. He attended George Westinghouse Information Technology High School in Downtown Brooklyn, with fellow rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, but later dropped out.
4. When he was younger, Jay-Z used to wake his siblings up at night by banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. Eventually, his mother bought him a boom box for his birthday and started him on what would become a life-long interest in music. This was also when he began freestyling.
5. As crack addiction reached an epidemic state in the 1980s, Jay-Z, only aged 13, began selling the drug to help his mother make ends meet.
6. When he first began freestyling and getting into battles, Jay was known as Jazzy. He later "outgrew" the name and changed it to Jay-Z – a tribute to his mentor Jaz-O, with whom he had recorded his first verses.
7. Jay-Z’s first breakthrough verse was on posse track on rap legend Big Daddy Kane's Daddy's Home.
8. When he started out emceeing professionally, Jay couldn’t secure a recording deal. In 1996 his producer Clark Kent introduced him to Dame Dash and together with Kareem "Biggs" Burke, they decided to launch their own label, Roca-A-Fella Records.
9. Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, only made it to #23 on the Billboard charts but, to this day, is widely recognized as a hip-hop classic, often compared to Nas' Illmatic.
10. Jay-Z pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges when he was accused of having stabbed record executive Lance "Un" Rivera, who allegedly bootlegged his fourth album, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter.
11. After years of exchanging subliminal disses with fellow New York emcee Nas, Jay went on stage at the Hot 97 Summer Jam concert and performed "Takeover" – a track that took a direct jab at Nas with the line: "Ask Nas, he don't want it with me".
12. The beef took a dramatic turn when Jay-Z revealed that he had had an affair with Nas' ex-girlfriend. Later, Jay-Z apologized for the comments following his mother's disapproval.
13. The Nas and Jay-Z beef is regarded as one of Hip Hop’s most historic and has one of the most memorable endings.
14. In November 2003, Jay-Z became the first rapper to headline a show at the highly regarded Madison Square Garden in New York. It was meant as a farewell to his music career.
15. In late 2004 Jay-Z was named president of Def Jam Records. His partners Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke sold their remaining interests in Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z took control of both companies.
16. In March 2007, Jay-Z sold the rights to his Rocawear clothing brand to Iconix Brand Group for a reported $204 million.
17. Jay-Z was chosen to induct hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame.
18. On April 4th, 2008 Jay-Z married R&B/pop diva Beyonce.
19. In 2008, Jay-Z became the first rapper to headline the Glastonbury Festival, much to the chagrin of Oasis' Noel Gallagher who believed that Glastonbury was meant for "guitar music".
20. Jay-Z's mother, Gloria Carter, was honoured with a proclamation from the New York City Council for her "outstanding contributions to the community" through the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund.
21. Jay-Z is a part-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team and paid a reported $4.5 million for his share.
22. On August 9, 2006 (during his retirement) Jay met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the organization's headquarters in New York, where he pledged to use his then upcoming world tour to raise awareness of – and combat – global water shortage.
23. He has investments in a real estate development venture called J Hotels. It has recently acquired a $66 million mid-block parcel in Chelsea, New York.
24. This year, it was announced that Jay-Z has had 11 number one albums, which beats Elvis, who only managed 10 during his career.

From battles and beefs to bling, Beyonce and the boardroom: all the juice on the most influential man in music.
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