Music News

Five Things You Likely Don't Know About Jay Z

You love the Jiggaman, but do you really know all about his greatness?

There are so many facets to Mr. Shawn Carter — loving father, attentive husband, chart-topping rapper, business, man. And thanks to his all-angles hustle, Hova's latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, was certified platinum before it even came out. Not bad for a kid who used to sell crack in Brooklyn, right?

Here are five more things you probably don't know about Jay Z:

He went to high school with the Notorious B.I.G. On the 1996 track "Brooklyn's Finest," Jay and Biggie famously waged a friendly rap battle, but their connection runs a lot deeper than just sharing a few songs and the BKNY streets. In fact, when young Shawn Carter's original high school shut down, he, along with B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, began attending George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School.

In the halls, Carter was called "Jazzy," an homage to his mentor, rapper Jaz-O. Later, when it was time to take center stage, he modified the nickname to Jay-Z. But remember, as of this year, it's no longer hyphenated.

He boycotted his first Grammy Awards in support of DMX. Over the years, Jay's been awarded 17 Grammys. And while most artists would see such accolades as a great honor, he actually refused to attend his first Grammys in 1999 because he felt DMX and rap music had gotten snubbed. "I didn't think they gave the rightful respect to hip-hop," he told MTV in 2002. And Jay was joined in protest by Eminem, Salt-n-Pepa, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and others. Regardless of a great number of nods and wins, he continues to blow the awards off from time to time. This year, he's been nominated five times. Do you think Hova will attend?

He is a business "game changer," according to Bloomberg. Not only does Jay command the attention of the music world but he's also got the business junkies on lock. This year, the Bloomberg media company even dedicated a 30-minute documentary special to his rise from drug dealer to Forbes hip-hop cash king and ranking member of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. "He went from street corner to corner office," Bloomberg mused, calling him "the CEO of a $450 million global empire." But that's not just a figure of speech. It's fact. He is former CEO of Def Jam and current CEO of his own Roc-A-Fella Records.

He's also the founder of Roc Nation, a partnership with Live Nation, which deals in music, sports, fashion, and entertainment. He owns a chain of clubs, 40/40, with locations in multiple cities. And he knows how to flip his holdings into megamillions. He's living the true American Dream.

His daughter is the youngest person ever to appear on the Billboard charts. Jay's ruthless in the streets, on the mic, and in the office. But at home, he appears to be a gentle family man. Have you seen and heard his wife's new visual album, Beyoncé? It's incredible, and the clip for "Drunk in Love" has them lookin' like the sexiest, fiercest, most adorable couple. Of course, together, they're the most powerful and well-paid people in entertainment, so it only makes sense.

In 2012, they had their first child, a daughter named Blue Ivy, and they have both put her on their newest releases. For Jay's song "Glory," the girl makes a cameo, cooing at the end. And when it hit the Billboard Hot 200, she became the youngest chart-hitter ever. Not even 2 years old and already making history.

He is likely the most important hip-hop artist of all time. Altogether, Jay has won 44 music awards and been nominated for another 136. And after 12 officially released full-length albums loaded with classic anthems, it's easy to understand the accolades. Quite simply, Jay Z is untouchable. Easily one of the greatest. A living legend in the game. Great and mysterious.

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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.