Jay -Z: Hustler from Brooklyn turned Billionaire

By: Kassandra Grullon

Jay-Z is an American rapper, song writer, record executive, businessman, and media proprietor.  He has been in the music industry for over 25 years. Over the years Jay-Z has been a role model and inspiration for those who strive to create music and those who seek to better their lives. Through his songs, activism, and business Jay-Z multi-billion dollar enterprise shifting the odds against him. All while helping people want more for themselves. Jay-Z is perhaps one of the most talented rappers of his generation, and his music shows this.

Who is Jay-Z?

Allow me to introduce one of the most influential rap artists of the Hip-Hop genre. His name is Hov but recognized worldwide as Jay-Z. Rapper and businessman Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4th, 1969. Jay-Z was born and raised in the Marcy Housing Projects located in Brooklyn, New York. During his time there, the Marcy Projects was a crime-infested neighborhood where most families struggled to make ends meet. The struggle was no stranger to Jay-Z and his family as he had to sell crack cocaine within the Marcy Projects to help his family. However, this did not dwindle his passion for music. Around the neighborhood, he was known for his random freestyles and lyrics. Little did he know that this would be a profitable career for him and his family.

Rise to Hip-Hop Fame


Jay- Z turned to rap at a very young age as an escape from the drugs, violence, and poverty that surrounded him in the Marcy Projects. He began his career selling mix-tapes from his car when no record label would sign him. After receiving push back from major labels, Jay-Z decided to pursue music as an independent artist and develop his own record company. Jay-Z and two friends founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996 and in the same year produced his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. It is now considered a classic hip-hop album, featuring songs such as “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” featuring Mary J. Blige, and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a collaboration with Notorious B.I.G.. Reasonable Doubt established Jay-Z as an emerging star in hip-hop.

In recent years Jay-Z has released the album 4:44. This album broke billboard charts and stands as one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums of this decade. Today, Jay-Z has taken a step back from music to focus on his family, business, and philanthropy. He is still featured on many songs, but as a Hip-Hop legend he doesn’t need to do much!

Awards and Success

Throughout Jay-Z’s 25-year music career, he has produced 19 studio albums and 51 singles that have received huge success. His most famous songs consist of Empire State of Mind, 99 Problems, and Hard Knock Life. These records have had significant success and developed him into the Rap legend he is today. Jay- Z has received a total of 23 Gramy’s and has even been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All in all, Jay-Z is a very successful artist that has received many acknowledgments for his work

Musical Flow

Jay-Z has a very distinct musical sound. Deriving inspiration from artists like Notorious B.I.G and DMX, Jay-Z music has lyrical wisdom that is undeniable. His music consists of life lessons and inspiration for those listening to his music. Through his rap songs, he wants his audience to learn from his life to improve theirs. Such instances can be seen in his 2017 single The Story of O.J, where he states, “ You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit…. Financial freedom my only hope.Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke…..But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99”. Jay-Z is trying to inspire those listening to strive for a less materialistic life and invest more to gain financial freedom. Lack of financial freedom is a means of keeping minorities oppressed, he’s just trying to give them game for the cost of a Tidal monthly subscription. The use of lyrical wisdom in music used by Jay-Z has inspired many upcoming artists. The influence of Jay-Z can be seen through the music of artists such as J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

Business and Philanthropy


Jay-Z was one of the first Hip-Hop artists to use his monetary success from music and invest it into building generational wealth. As he took a break from music Jay-Z made a multi-million company and name for himself. Investing in numerous businesses, Jay-Z now owns Roc-A-Wear clothing, a Record label Rocnation, Shares in Uber, A cognac and champagne brand Ace of Spades, and so many more. Jay-z has proved how you can turn one talent into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.


Shifting from music to business, Jay-Z has also been highly involved in politics and philanthropy. To begin Jay- Z has founded the Shawn Carter Foundation that has provided scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged youth and communities. Since 2003 the Shawn Carter Foundation has given nearly 3 million dollars worth of aid to students in need. Jay-Z is also heavily involved in politics and the betterment of the black community. Through his activism, he has provided a voice for Black young men such as Kalief Browder and rapper Meek Mill in his unjust trial. He has also given over 1.5 million dollars to Black Lives Matter.


Jay-Z is one of the most prolific artists of this century. Not only has he been able to capture great audiences through his music, but he has also been able to shift his success into other industries. Through his significant business investments and success, he is an icon and example for the black community of a person who is able to invest their success for more generations to come instead of indulging in materialistic things. He has also become an example through his activism and inspired others in the music industry to use their platforms for the common good. This is how Jay-Z was a hustler turned billionaire.

Works cited

Bloomberg, Michael. “The 2013 Time 100.” Time, Time, 18 Apr. 2013, ● https://time100.time.com/2013/04/18/time-100/."Jay-Z.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 12 May 2021, https://www.biography.com/musician/jay-z. ● “Jay-Z.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jay-Z. ● “Jay-Z.” ROC NATION, 15 Mar. 2021, https://www.rocnation.com/music/jay-z/. ● Person. “Jay-Z Shares the Most Important Lesson He's Learned.” Oprah.com, Oprah.com, 19 July 2018, https://www.oprah.com/own-master-class/jay-z-shares-the-most-important-lesson-hes-learned. ● Phillips, Yoh. “The Lyrical Wisdom of Jay-Z.” Tidal , 4 Dec. 2019, https://tidal.com/magazine/article/the-lyrical-wisdom-of-jay-z/1-57400.


Reasonable Doubt
In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
Vol. 2, Hard Knock Life
Vol. 3, Life and Times of Shawn Carter
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
The Blueprint
The Best of Both Worlds
The Blueprint: The gift and The Curse
The Blueprint 2.1
The Black Album
Unifinished Business
Collision Course
Kingdom Come
American Gangster
Blueprint 3
Watch The Throne
Magna Carta... Holy Grail


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