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Shawn Carter grew up living in a housing project in Brooklyn, New York. Carter can recall various hardships while growing up, such as his father walking out on him, his brother, and his mother, selling crack cocaine to help pay for living, and failing to graduate from high school. However, all of these unpleasant memories are overshadowed by his love for music that stemmed from his mother getting him a boom box for his birthday while younger. His passion for music consumed him as he began to write and freestyle during all of his free time. Eventually, his neighborhood nickname would become his persona, taking the name Jazzy and bringing it into his rapping. To this day, Shawn Carter is better known as Jay-Z.

Jay-Z’s first album, Reasonable Doubt, didn’t soar to great heights on the billboard charts, but gained positive reviews left and right. It would go on to become certified Platinum by the RIAA. His second studio album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, would go on to have the same success as Jay-Z’s first album by taking home Platinum status. It was his third album, however, that would go on to eventually win a Grammy Award and sell over 5 million copies, going 5x Platinum in the United States. Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life sent Jay-Z to the top of the charts, quickly gaining a following of supporters for his unique style of flow.

With hits like “Hard Knock Life”, “H.O.V.A.”, and “Big Pimpin”, Jay-Z really started to crank out the hits that he has become known throughout the hip hop community for. His focus on keeping his music fresh and always evolving was really expressed when he collaborated with the rock band Linkin Park to fuse Rap and Rock in a mashup album. Their hit song “Numb/Encore” ended up winning a Grammy, just going to show how versatile Jay-Z is. He eventually decided he was going to retire from the rap game, but not too long after this announcement did he put out yet another critically acclaimed album with “The Blueprint 3”. Though he continues an already illustrious career through rapping and performing, he has become a business mogul in many different ways. At one point he was the CEO of Def Jam Recordings, helped create Roc-A-Fella Records, Rocawear, and Roc Nation, is co-owner of The 40/40 Club, and owns part of the New Jersey Nets. Needless to say, he is just as much of an entrepreneur as he is a rap artist.

Since he began his career as a hip hop artist, Jay-Z has been known to be an incredible live performer. His shows at Madison Square Garden are said to be an experience like none you have ever felt before. As of right now, Jay-Z is touring with Eminem, putting on shows all across the United States. With millions of fans worldwide, it would be hard for one not to see how Jay-Z has changed the face of hip hop for the better.

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