Jay Z is an American rapper and record producer.
He was born as Shawn Corey Carter on December 4th, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York City.
In 1995, Jay Z launched Roc-A-Fella Records as a label with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs. Jay Z himself released his first album ‘Reasonable Doubt’ in 1996, with features from Notorious B.I.G. The album was released on June 25th, and peaked at number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In 1997, Jay Z signed a distribution deal with American record label Def Jam, which helped him release his follow-up album: ‘In My Lifetime, Vol. 1′ on November 4th, 1997. The album peaked at number 3 in the US Billboard 200, and number 2 in the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums. Following this, Jay Z relased ‘Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life’ on September 29th, 1998 which topped the US Billboard 200.
From this, Jay Z released singles ‘Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)’, ‘Can I Get A…’ and ‘Nigga What, Nigga Who’. The album was certified 5x Platinum in the US, and has sold over 5 million copies, making it Jay Z’s most successful album.
December 28th, 1999 brought ‘Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter’ which debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling an impressive 462,000 copies in first week sales. From this, Jay Z released hugely successful single “Big Pimpin’”.
Shortly after the single’s release in 2000, came a dark time in Jay Z’s life. He was accused of stabbing Lance “Un” Riviera at a night club in Times Square, NYC with a five-inch blade. Jay Z initially pleaded not guilty, until pleading guilty to a lesser charge, resulting in 3 years probation.
On October 31, 2000 Jay-Z released his fifth studio album ‘The Dynasty: Roc La Familia’ which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling a whopping 557, 789 copies in first week sales.
Jay Z’s sixth studio album came on 11th September, 2001 when he released ‘The Blueprint’. The album sold more than 420,000 copies in it’s first week, making it his fourth album in a row to reach the coveted number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified double platinum. From this, he released singles ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’, ‘Jigga That Nigga’ and ‘Song Cry’. Apparently, the album took only two days to write and was praised for being a ‘hip hop classic’ which combined both ‘mainstream’ and ‘hardcore’ rap.
On November 12th, Jay Z released his follow up album ‘The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse’. The album was split into two parts, with ‘The Blueprint 2.1′ being released in 2003. the album peaked at number one in both the US Billboard 200 and the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
Jay Z released his eighth studio album on November 14th, 2003 titled ‘The Black Album’. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling an impressive 463,000 copies in first week sales. Later that month, Jay Z held a massive concert at Madison Square Garden, donating the proceed of the event to charity.
In 2004, Jay Z became president of Def Jam Records and so he juggled is responsibilities between both that and owning Roc-A-Fella records.
After a short retirement from music, Jay Z released his comeback album ‘Kingdom Come’ on November 21, 2006. The album sold around 680,000 copies in first week sales and peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200.
November 6th, 2007 brought Jay Z’s tenth studio album ‘American Gangster’. The album sold 425, 861 copies in it’s first week of sales, and peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart and the US Billboard Top Rap Albums chart.
In 2008, Jay Z was announced as the first ever major hip hop artist to headline the Glastonbury Festival. However, this didn’t go down too well with the typical indie festival-goers, and Oasis’s Noel Gallagher was reported saying: “I’m sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night you go ‘Kylie Minogue?’ I don’t know about it. But I’m not having hip hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.”
Fighting his corner, Jay Z responded: “We don’t play guitars, Noel, but hip hop has put in its work like any other form of music. This headline show is just a natural progression. Rap music is still evolving. We have to respect each other’s genre of music and move forward.” His performance at the festival turned out to be a huge success despite the initial criticism.
In 2010, Jay Z collaborated on an EP with fellow rapper Kanye West, which turned out to be one of the most ingenious collaborations in hip hop. The album was released on August 8th, 2011 and sold 436,000 copies in it’s first week, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. It has now sold over one million copies.
In support of the successful album, Jay Z and Kanye embarked on their ‘Watch The Throne Tour’ from October 29, 2011 to June 22, 2012 in which they visited North America, USA, Canada, Europe and the UK. The pair also gave a surprise performance of one of the album’s tracks ‘Otis’ at the 2011 MTV Music Awards.