A rapper, entrepreneur, media proprietor, record producer, and songwriter, Jay-Z is one of the few people who has excelled in everything he has put his hands on. His path to success hasn’t been a straightforward one, though. He has brushed shoulders with the law, dealt crack cocaine, and survived being shot three times. Continue reading to find out more mind-blowing Jay-Z facts.
1. He Was Born Shawn Corey Carter
Famous for his stage name, Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter in 1969. He was born and raised in the notorious Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, New York City. The legendary rapper attended several high schools, including Eli Whitney, Trenton Central in New Jersey, and Technical Education.
2. Jay-Z Was Raised By His Mother
When Jay-Z and his three elder siblings were abandoned by their father, Adnis Reeves, their mother, Gloria Carter, took care of them, catering to their daily needs. Jay-Z later met and reconciled with his father before his eventual demise in 2003.
3. There is a Famous “Dinner with Jay-Z” Meme
Given his tremendous success as a musician and entrepreneur, a popular meme on the internet asks whether someone would choose $500,000 in cash or have dinner with Jay-Z. Many people, including public figures like Rick Ross, have weighed in, dividing opinions.
Most people debate that having dinner with the rapper might result in advice leading to more success than the money offered. Interestingly, Jay-Z himself said people should take the $500,000, stating that every piece of advice about finances that he would give to anyone is already in his “Blueprint” album.
4. Jay-Z Shot His Older Brother When He Was 12
Jay-Z, through a part of his lyrics from the song “You Must Love Me,” claimed he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his ring. He later spoke about the incident in an interview, saying he thought his life was over and he’d go to jail forever. This confirmed that the song wasn’t just about rapping and rhyming; it depicted true life events.
5. He Dropped out of School
After joining several high schools, including one in New Jersey and two in Brooklyn, New York City, Jay-Z dropped out during his sophomore year. From his past interviews and lyrics, Jay-Z explains that selling crack cocaine contributed to the aborted education, something he isn’t proud of.
6. Jay-Z Survived Being Shot at
While he was dealing crack cocaine, Jay-Z survived being shot three times. This was a common occurrence in the neighborhood he grew up in.
7. He Is Famous for His Roc Diamond Hand Symbol
Over the years, Jay-Z’s roc diamond hand symbol has been subject to criticism around the world. Many associate it with “satanic” affiliations, while others simply don’t know what it means. However, the rapper recently lifted the lid on the matter, saying his Roc-A-Fella crew came up with the gesture.
8. His Love for Music Started Early
According to Gloria Cater (Jay-Z’s mother), the rapper would wake his siblings at night by banging drum patterns on the kitchen table. When she bought him a boombox for one of his birthdays, Jay-Z’s musical interest sparked to greater heights.
9. He Adopted His Stage Name in Homage to His Mentor
Jay-Z adopted his stage name in homage to his mentor, Jonathan Allen Burks Sr., popularly known as Jaz-O. He was a talented rapper and record producer who reigned in the late 80s and the 90s. Jay-Z learned a lot from him, including his rapping skills and featuring in several of Jay-O’s recordings, hence the homage.
10. He Was the First Hip Hop Artist to Headline Britain’s Glastonbury Festival
Jay-Z was the first Hip Hop artist to headline Britain’s Glastonbury Festival in 2008. Even though the tickets sold out in record time, there was a lot of doubt and condemnation from the festival’s organizers; they did not think a Hip Hop artist would be appreciated by the crowd.
At one point, Jay-Z was ready to cancel the show, but Coldplay’s Chris Martin convinced him that the crowd loved him. Jay-Z eventually performed at the event, and it was an immense success.
11. Jay-Z Once Had a Feud with Nas
As is often the case with the rapping music genre, feuds between artists are bound to arise. This was the case between Jay-Z and Nas, another American rapper representing East Coast hip hop. It all started with Jay-Z alluding negatively to other artists representing the East Coast through his lyrics in 2001. Nas didn’t take it lightly, and the “beef” grew. However, the feud lasted only five years, with Jay-Z stating that Mark Pitts, an American record producer and manager, was critical in settling it.
12. He Is a Great and Fast Music Writer
Among the many Jay-Z attributes, one that stands out is his ability to write fast. When he released his sixth studio album, The Blueprint, in September 2001, it became an immense success. It sold more than 427,000 copies and received a five-mic review. Interestingly, Jay-Z claims he wrote the whole album in just two days. He also ghostwrote the hit song “Still” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in just 30 minutes.
13. Jay-Z Once Stubbed a Record Producer
Besides shooting his older brother on the shoulder, Jay-Z also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for stubbing Lance Rivera, a record producer, in 2001. The incident that happened at the Kit Kat Klub in New York City in 1999 saw the rapper serve three years on probation.
14. He Has an Equally Successful Business Career
While Jay-Z’s music was a massive success in the 90s and 2000s, his business career is admired to date. Over the recent years, the rapper has “laid low” in making music but gone all in on business. He has his hands in different industries, including real estate, record labels, clothing lines, beverages, and sports teams.
15. Jay-Z Isn’t Making Political Opinions
Politics attracts strong opinions worldwide; few huge brands want to associate with it. However, with all his success, Jay-Z isn’t afraid to have and stand for his political opinions. In 2006, he publicly denounced racism and anti-Semitism. He actively supported President Obama’s candidature in 2008 and was part of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaigns.
16. He Relies A Lot on His Memory
One of Jay-Z’s repertoire is his ability to remember the finest of details. During a recent with CBS, he agreed that he struggled to keep notes during his earlier music career years, so he relied heavily on his memory. While he memorized most of them, Jay-Z admitted that some ideas might have been lost along the way.
17. Jay-Z Was Recently Honored by the Brooklyn Public Library
2023 has been one of Jay-Z’s best years regarding winning accolades and honors. Earlier in the year, Billboard named him the greatest rapper of all time. He was also honored by the Brooklyn Public Library when they set up a tribute exhibition called “The Book of HOV” at the facility. The collection shows Jay-Z’s career, success, and triumphs; it is open to the public.
18. Jay-Z Was the First Rapper to Be Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Founded in 1969, The Songwriters Hall of Fame honors those who work, present, and maintain the heritage and legacy of a spectrum of songs sung in English. Jay-Z was the first artist inducted into this coveted hall of fame. He is also the first to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
19. He Retired from Making Music, Twice
While Jay-Z hasn’t released a new album in a considerable amount of time, it isn’t the first time the rapper has claimed to retire from making music. If anything, he first “retired” on November 25, 2003, when he held a concert billed as a “retirement party.”
The event held at Madison Square Garden in New York City featured heavyweight artists including Foxy Brown, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Beanie Siegel, R Kelly, and Pharrell Williams. On the contrary, even after declaring his time out, he collaborated with other artists, including Linkin Park. He also released other subsequent albums, including The Blueprint 3 and Watch the Throne. His other “retirement” is the hiatus from around 2018.