Born: 4 December 1969
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Best known as: Rapper of “Hard Knock Life”
Name at birth: Shawn Carter
Jay-Z was one of East Coast rap’s top acts as the 21st century began, known for his street-hustler background and for creating his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay-Z released his debut album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. His breakthrough 1998 album Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life included the huge hits “Can I Get A…” and “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” the latter featuring a chorus sampled from the Broadway show Annie. The album won a Grammy for best rap album, and Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life Tour cemented his stardom. He has collaborated with DMX, Foxy Brown, Memphis Bleek and others; his later albums include Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter (1999) and The Blueprint (2001, with producer Kanye West). In 2004 he announced his retirement from recording, and in 2005 he was made the chief executive officer of Def Jam Records. His performing retirement was short-lived: an EP he released with rockers Linkin Park produced the hit song “Numb/Encore,” a 2006 Grammy winner. He released a full-length “comeback” album, Kingdom Come, in 2006.
Extra credit: Jay-Z’s name is a shortened version of an early nickname, “Jazzy”… Another popular nickname for Jay-Z is “Jiggy”… In 2005 he announced he wanted to be known by his real name, Shawn Carter… He married the singer Beyoncé on 4 April 2008, according to reports in People magazine.