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Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), better known as Jay-Z, is an American rapper and current president and CEO of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella Records. In addition, he co-owns The 40/40 Club, and is co-owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team. He is one of the most financially successful American hip-hop artists.
Known for his flow and blending of street and popular rap, Jay-Z has become one of the best-selling rappers in the hip hop industry. He is admired for his ability to compose lyrics without the use of pen and paper (his critically acclaimed album The Blueprint was written in only two days). He also returned from retirement in late 2006 with the album Kingdom Come which sold 680,000 copies in its first week, Jay-Z's highest-selling album in a one-week period.
Along with Damon "Dame" Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke, Jay-Z was one of the founders of Roc-A-Fella Records, a hip-hop record label. Jay-Z is the second richest Hip-Hop Entertainer (behind Sean "Puffy" Combs, a.k.a. Diddy), having a net-worth estimate of $340 million.
Originally from Marcy Houses housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York, Jay-Z was abandoned by his father Adnes Reeves when he was twelve years old. Jay-Z attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn, along with rapper AZ until it was closed down. After that he attended George Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn with fellow rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes and Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey but did not graduate. He claims to have been caught up in selling drugs, which he refers to in his music.
According to his mother Gloria Carter, a young Jay-Z used to wake his siblings up at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. Eventually, she bought him a boom box for his birthday and thus sparked his interest in music. He began freestyling, writing rhymes, and followed the music of many artists popular at the time. It is stated that he beat Busta Rhymes in a rap battle, but also has lost to DMX.
In his neighborhood, Carter was known as "Jazzy", a nickname which eventually developed into his stage name, "Jay-Z". The moniker is also a homage to his musical mentor Jaz-O (a.k.a. Jaz, Big Jaz) as well as to the J-Z subway lines that have a stop at Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn.
Jay-Z can be heard on several of Jaz-O's early recordings in the late 80's and early 90's, including "The Originators" and "Hawaiian Sophie". He also collaborated with Inglewood, California producer Three-1-Zero. His career had a jump start when he battled a rapper by the name of Zai. The battle caught the eye of many record labels, as Jay-Z was able to hold his own against Zai. He also made an appearance on a popular song by Big L, "Da Graveyard", and on Mic Geronimo's "Time to Build", which also featured early appearances by DMX and Ja Rule and Shazim Hasan in 1995.
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