Celebrity Then And Now
Jay Z
Name: Jay Z
Birthdate: January 1, 1970
Famous Years: 1995 - Present
Currently Known For:
Networth: $810 MillionFamous For: "99 Problems," "Hard Knock Life," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
Jay Z
Name Jay Z
Birthdate January 1, 1970
Famous Years 1995 - Present
Currently Known For
Networth $810 Million
Famous For "99 Problems," "Hard Knock Life," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"

1969 seemed like the year when many rap legends were born. Among them was Shawn Carter, who you likely know more as Jay-Z. The legendary rapper was born on December 4 of that year in New York City, where he still resides today as one of the living icons of music.

Jay-Z wouldn’t have an easy upbringing while in Brooklyn, getting into selling drugs at a young age in hopes of making ends meet. Even though this would be a distraction, Jay-Z had always had a passion for music, making instruments out of anything that he could find his hands on.

Talking about the time when he was selling drugs on the streets, Jay-Z said that “At 14, 15 years old, you’re thinking about sneakers or you’re thinking about some sort of relief from all of the pain you’re feeling. You’re thinking about buying some food for the house. You’re thinking about paying the extra light bill. So at that young age, you’re not thinking about the destruction you’re causing your own community.”

Even though it looked like he might not be able to get out of the streets and away from selling drugs, Jay-Z worked on his rap lyrics so that he could possibly have a way out. “I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice - anything just get a paper back,” he said. “And I’d write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook.”

Unlike many rappers, Jay-Z didn’t start rapping when he was a teenager or in his early 20s, getting a break early in his career. Instead, he was left with a massive notebook filled from cover to cover with these lyrics he’d been writing down (something he no longer does) and decided in his mid 20s to start recording some of these lyrics.

Even though he was featured in the background on some rappers’ songs, Jay-Z wasn’t landing any gigs as a solo act. There were no labels lining up to sign him, and he was selling CDs from his trunk that he released from his fledgling Roc-A-Fella Records label that he started in 1995. After being discovered for his early mixtapes, Jay-Z would finally get his big break when he was signed by Priority Records, releasing his first album “Reasonable Doubt” in 1996.

Jay-Z was finally on the map as the record was a big success, and he wouldn’t look back from there. The rest of the 1990s saw Jay-Z rise to rap superstardom thanks to songs such as “Hard Knock Life” and “Can I Get A…” There was no slowing down when the 2000s came around, either as Jay-Z would continue his hot streak to the point where many considered him to not only be the greatest active MC, but perhaps the greatest of all-time.

Out of his long catalogue of songs, many have reached the top of the charts in the Billboard Rap Singles charts. On the mainstream side of things, Jay-Z has had a dozen top 10 hits, including his only number one single “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys. Other mega hits include “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, “Run This Town” and “Holy Grail”.

Jay-Z had always led a private personal life, as he hadn’t been married or had children prior to meeting former Destiny’s Child singer and solo sensation Beyonce Knowles. The two had collaborated on songs in the early 2000s, and started up a lowkey relationship that didn’t become public until around five years later.

The two would then become engaged quickly after going public with their relationship, and were instantly the biggest couple in all of music. In April 2008, the couple got married and have been ever since, having three children together. Even though he’s still a music icon, Jay-Z is known more these days for not only his marriage and fatherhood, but also his business acumen.

Clothing has been a big selling point for Jay-Z, as well as many other ventures, leading Jay-Z to famously say, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” Some of those other successful businesses include investing in real estate, beauty products and getting into sports teams. Jay-Z was at one point a part-owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and their arena, the Barclays Center.

Though he sold his stake in the team and their arena, Jay-Z has also started up his own sports agency that’s been blossoming over the past five years. Some of the biggest athletes in all of sports have started to sign with Roc Nation Sports, including the likes of Robinson Cano (MLB), Todd Gurley (NFL) and Kevin Durant (NBA).

Because of his success in business, Jay-Z doesn’t have to record another song in his life. With a net worth that’s creeping up toward $1 billion which would surpass Sean “Diddy” Combs as the richest rapper in the world, Jay-Z has become the pinnacle of success for those that aren’t sure if they can make it out of their current situation. Jay-Z’s meteoric rise to the top is nothing short of remarkable, and he’s likely to keep it going for a very long time.