My research methodology was very detailed. The first thing I did was find reliable and valuable sources that were related to Jay-Z. I aimed to get more books than website sources because I believe books would have better information. From there I made sure the books talked about the information that I needed. I went chapter by chapter finding information that matched the topic of my paper.

Introduction ​

Jay-Z , whose original name is Shawn Carter, is one of the most well-known rap artists. He was born in New York City on December 4th, 1969. In New York City, he grew up in Brooklyn, more specifically in Marcy Projects. His mother was Gloria Carter and his father was Adnes Reeves. Jay-Z has four siblings, two sisters and one brotherThe presence of drugs and violence played a major toll on Jay-Z’s life when he was growing up and molded him to be the person he was. However, he was tired of the influence that it had on his life and he turned to music. Jay-Z’s rap career took off in the late 1980’s and ever since then he has had continual success. Jay-Z is one of the most influential and famous rappers in the world. There are three distinct features that make him the person he is today: his exposure to drugs and violence, his hustler mentality, and music.

Exposure to Drugs and Violence​

Duplicate Column Add Column Remove Column Jay-Z has had an early introduction to drugs and violence. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a housing complex called Marcy Projects. Marcy Projects is a housing complex that is run by New York City’s housing authorities. It is known for its surplus of violence, crime, and drug abuse. These aspects all played a major role on Jay-Z when he was growing up. When Jay-Z turned 11 his brother’s father was stabbed to death. Not only was his brother’s father stabbed to death his father left their family and began to use drugs. His father leaving him had a negative effect on him. He would not allow anybody to get close to him because of the fear that they would leave just like his father did. At the age of 12 Jay-Z shot his brother because his brother stole his ring. He was fearful that he would go to jail for a long time. The gun that he shot his brother with was not his gun however guns were easily accessible in Marcy Projects. When Jay-Z became a teen ager he began to sell drugs. He was not selling little things like marijuana. However, he was selling substances such as cocaine and crack. One of his main reasons for selling drugs was to support his mother. When Jay-Z’s father left he left his mom to raise and support four children on her own. Jay-Z often describes the feeling of drugs to be addicting. He was addicted to getting fast money – and that is exactly what drug dealing consists of. He looked up to the other drug dealers in Brooklyn and even viewed them as role models. They normalized drug dealing in that community.

Jay-Z has had an early introduction to drugs and violence. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a housing complex called Marcy Projects. Marcy Projects is a housing complex that is run by New York City’s housing authorities. It is known for its surplus of violence, crime, and drug abuse. These aspects all played a major role on Jay-Z when he was growing up. When Jay-Z turned 11 his brother’s father was stabbed to death. Not only was his brother’s father stabbed to death his father left their family and began to use drugs. His father leaving him had a negative effect on him. He would not allow anybody to get close to him because of the fear that they would leave just like his father did. At the age of 12 Jay-Z shot his brother because his brother stole his ring. He was fearful that he would go to jail for a long time. The gun that he shot his brother with was not his gun however guns were easily accessible in Marcy Projects. When Jay-Z became a teen ager he began to sell drugs. He was not selling little things like marijuana. However, he was selling substances such as cocaine and crack. One of his main reasons for selling drugs was to support his mother. When Jay-Z’s father left he left his mom to raise and support four children on her own. Jay-Z often describes the feeling of drugs to be addicting. He was addicted to getting fast money – and that is exactly what drug dealing consists of. He looked up to the other drug dealers in Brooklyn and even viewed them as role models. They normalized drug dealing in that community.

Music Career

Not only did drugs and violence play a major role in who he is, music has also played a major role in shaping him into the person who he is today. Jay-Z believed that music helped him survive. He noticed that the current lifestyle he was living, which involved guns and violence, was taking him down a terrible path and he was looking for another way out. In looking for another way out he found music. Most of his music career took place in New York. It provided him an outlet, other than the streets, that would keep him out of trouble. In 1989, he partnered with the rapper Jaz-O and recorded a song called “The Originators”. This song gained them an appearance on Yo! MTV Raps. At this moment Jay-Z encompassed his nickname as Jay-Z. His nickname came from many things. These things included his partner Jaz-O, his childhood nickname of Jazzy, and the subway stop near his home in Brooklyn. In 1996, he founded his record label Roc-a-Fella Records with his friends Damon Dash and Kareem Burke.

After launching his record label, he released his first album which was called Reasonable Doubt. After his first album, he launched two other album two years later called In My Lifetime, Vol 1 and  Vol 2.. Hard Knock Life. He was able to win a Grammy with this album. This album is what really marked his success as a hip-hop artist. Following that he dropped Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.  The next three albums that he launched were The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, The Blueprint, and The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. In 2003 Jay-Z announced that he would be retiring from music after his album The Black Album. He said that would be his last solo album. However, Jay-Z’s retirement did not last long. He came back in 2006 and released the album Kingdom Come. Later he released two more albums which were American Gangster and Blueprint 3.  Following those releases Jay-Z also partnered up with Kanye West to release a collaborate album called Watch the Throne. Following that Jay-Z dropped another album titled Magna Carta Holy Grail, which landed him many Grammy nominations. Recently Jay-Z has dropped another solo album titled 4:44, which address many speculations in his life. Jay-Z’s music career has brought him much success. 

Jay-Z’s music career has brought him many awards and accolades. At the American Music Awards he has taken home  Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist (twice) and also Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Album. From the Ascap Pop Music Awards he won Most Performed Song two times. During his career he has won the following BET awards: Best Male Hip Hop Artist (twice), Best Collaboration, Best Group, and Video of the Year.  Over the years he has won the following awards at the BET Hip-Hop Awards: Hustler of the Year, Best Live Performer, Lyricist of the Year, MVP of the Year, Best Hip Hop Video, Reese’s Perfect Combo Award, and CD of the Year. He has only won two Billboard Music Awards, R&B Albums Artist of the Year and Rap Artist of the Year. Jay-Z has one several Grammy’s. These Grammy’s include: Best Rap Album, Best R&B Song, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Solo Rap Performance, and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or a Group. He is currently nominated for many Grammy’s for the 2017 Grammy award show.

Not only has it brought him much success it also introduced him to the love of his life, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. The two met over 10 years ago in the early late 1990’s/ early 2000’s.  When Beyoncé began her solo career Jay-Z featured her on his song “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” and also was the leading lady in the video that corresponds with the song. Many believed that the release of the song signified how much Jay-Z was in love with Beyoncé. A year after “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” was released Beyoncé featured Jay-Z on her song “Crazy in Love”. In December of 2003 Beyoncé finally refers to Jay-Z as her boyfriend. As the years go on Jay-Z and Beyoncé feature each other on many more songs and in many more albums. Jay-Z married Beyoncé in April of 2008. On January 7, 2012 Jay-Z and Beyoncé had their first child together. It was their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Blue Ivy came after their previous miscarriage and meant a lot to both of them. Jay-Z calls Blue Ivy his biggest fan and talks about how he is taking a break from music to spend time with her. Five years later Beyoncé and Jay-Z have their twins, Sir and Rumy. Music not only brought Jay-Z much success, it also introduced him to his wife and also helped him create his beautiful family.

Hustler Mentality

Music plays a big role in what makes Jay-Z who is his, however his hustler mentality also contributes to his make-up. Jay-Z’s hustler mentality is what helped him to get to where he is now. He went from a drug dealer to a mogul throughout the years. Jay-Z accredits a lot of the way he does business to his drug dealing upbringing. He describes that as a drug dealer it taught him to budget and be frugal with his money. He believes that that is necessary when it comes to running businesses. When Jay-Z first got into the music industry he was unable to get a record deal. Instead of letting that defeat him he, alongside his friends, started their own music label called Roc-A-Fella records. The record label was known to be home to many great artists. It was very successful during raps more competitive era. Roc-A-Fella records had much success however its downfalls stemmed from personal differences between Jay-Z and the other founders. Throughout his career he partook in many other business ventures. These business ventures include 40/40 club, Armadale Vodka, Roc Nation, Rocawear, and a partnership with Barney’s. He bought a champagne company called Armand de Brignac and also was a stakeholder in the New York Net’s.

Rocawear is a clothing brand that is based in New York, New York. Rocawear was founded in 1999 by Roc-A-Fella records. The company had high annual sales however in 2007 Jay-Z sold the rights of Rocawear away to Iconix Brand Group for 204 million dollars. The next company that Jay-Z founded was Roc Nation. Roc Nation was founded in 2008. It is a distinguished entertainment company, that works with all types of entertainment. This includes artists, producers, songwriters, and athletes. Some people who are signed to Roc Nation include Rihanna, Shakira, J. Cole, and Big Sean to Yoenis Cespedes, Kevin Durant, and Dez Bryant. The incorporation of sports came from Jay-Z’s love of sports. Not only did Jay-Z launch Roc Nation, he also launched Tidal in 2015. Tidal is a music streaming service that is subscription based. Jay-Z bought Tidal when it was a struggling Swedish tech company called Aspiro. He rebranded it and relaunched it as Tidal. Jay-Z pitched Tidal as a way for artists to reclaim the music industry from tech companies that were taking over. The main aim for Tidal was to secure exclusive deals for new music. Artists such as Prince, Rihanna, Jack White, Beyoncé, and Kanye West have launched music on Tidal. Tidal was one of the best business ventures that Jay-Z has made.

Conclusion

Jay-Z has not only transformed into one of the most influential music icons but also one of the most powerful business men. He did not allow his rough upbringing in Marcy Projects determine his outcome. He actually allowed that to fuel his success. He took what he learned in the streets and applied it to his new life in the music industry and business world. Jay-Z would not be who he is without his early exposure to drugs and violence, music, and his hustler instinct.

Bibliography

Ali, Lorraine. “The Coolest Mogul; Multimillionaire Business Exec Shawn Carter–Jay-Z to You–Is 36 and Still Hasn’t Lost His Street Cred. How’d He Manage That?” Newsweek 148, no. 21 (2006): 63–63.

Bailey, Julius, and Julius Bailey. Jay-Z : Essays on Hip Hop’s Philosopher King. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2011.

Beaumont, Mark. Jay-Z : The King of America. London: Omnibus Press, 2012.

Burton, Justin D. “The Roots, Undun. Def Jam 001628202, 2011. Kanye West and Jay-Z, Watch the Throne. Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam 001542602, 2011.” Journal of the Society for American Music 7, no. 3 (2013): 343–347.

Greenburg, Zack O’Malley. Empire State of Mind : How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2011.

Gunderson, Jessica. Jay-Z : Hip-Hop Icon. Graphic Library. American Graphic. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 2012.

Hira, Nadira A. “Music – America’s Hippest Ceo – Rapper and Entrepreneur Jay-Z (A.k.a. Shawn Carter) Brings His Own Style to the Comer Office at Def Jam.” Fortune 152, no. 8 (2005): 110.

Jay-Z. Decoded. 1St ed. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2010

Weisman, Jon. “Jay-Z Looks to Roc the Sports World.” Variety319, no. 3 (2013): 34–34.

White, Miles. From Jim Crow to Jay-Z : Race, Rap, and the Performance of Masculinity. African American Music in Global Perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

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