Shawn Corey Carter is well known in the music world as Jay-Z. He is one of the most famous, talented, and award-winning artists in the USA. His albums reached the top spot of Billboard 200 more often than those of any other solo artists’. If you count groups, only The Beatles achieved better results on the chart.
Shawn was born on 4 December 1969, in Brooklyn. His parents loved music but didn’t work in show business. They had four children. Shawn has two sisters and a brother. The future rapper loved basketball since childhood. In his free time, Carter read books and wrote poetry.
Shawn was a good student. The aspiring rapper was so talented that he often managed to solve the toughest tasks without too much studying. Carter’s parents had many vinyl records at home. That’s why Shawn fell in love with music rather early.
In the 1980s, Carter’s life changed. His uncle was robbed and killed on the streets. Soon after that, his father started dealing drugs and left the family. Shawn’s mother had to bring four children up on her own. It all happened when the artist was just five years old. He took it very tough. Shawn believed that his father betrayed him and the family.
Carter’s mother worked hard to feed the children. After graduating high school, the rapper got a job at a nearby store but couldn’t earn much. The family needed money but managed to send the young man to college.
In college, Jay-Z met future rappers, Busta Rhymes and The Notorious B.I.G. He began recording his first songs. For some time, Shawn was earning money dealing drugs. But he stopped to avoid jail.
After quitting the drug business, Carter met a successful rapper Big Jaz. He helped the young artist take first steps in the music industry. They recorded a single “The Originators”. After that Jay-Z started performing with a group called Original flavor. At that time, he was already dreaming about a solo career. The rapper sent his demo albums to labels, but they refused to collaborate.
Shawn decided to spend all of his money on forming his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records. He worked hard to make it successful. Soon, the artist recorded his debut single, "In My Lifetime”.
In 1996, Carter presented the debut LP, Reasonable Doubt. The album was a big success. After the release, the rapper embarked on a tour of the USA. He was invited for collaboration by such successful artists as Mary J Blige. Shawn was releasing one album per year. All of them went platinum. Many fans tried to book Jay-Z for their private events.
The rapper got his first Grammy for the release of the third LP, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life. Jay-Z appeared on tops of the charts with his solo work and singles recorded with other artists. He topped Billboard Hot 100 with the song, "Heartbreaker", recorded with Mariah Carey. He also topped the chart with "03 Bonnie & Clyde", recorded with his future wife Beyoncé.
In 2003, together with Beyoncé, Jay-Z recorded a hit, “Crazy in Love” and announced a hiatus. In 2006, he came back with a new LP, Kingdom Come, which immediately earned two platinum certifications in the USA.
The new LP, American Gangster, came out next year. It went platinum as well. In 2009, the rapper released a new album, The Blueprint 3. It topped the charts and sold over 1.7 million copies.
Four years later, the artist presented a new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. It sold over 1.1 million copies in the USA and went platinum. After that, the rapper decided to try his luck in business and launched a sports bar network.
The next LP came out in 2017. It earned numerous positive reviews from the critics. 4:44 was a big success. It brought the rapper another Grammy for “Album of the Year” and went platinum.
In 2018, Jay-Z and Beyoncé recorded a successful collaborative album, Everything is Love.