Black Sheep of the Month – Jay Z

Shawn Corey Carter, well-known as Jay-Z, is regarded as one of the all-time greatest rappers. He is also a great record producer, songwriter, and businessman. He is one of the most influential and richest artists in the United States of America and the first hip-hop musician to become a billionaire. Jay-Z entered the music industry in the 80s and has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career.

Black Sheep of the Month – Jay Z

Early Life and Education

Shawn Corey Carter was born on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. When he was just eleven years old, his father Adnis Reeves abandoned his family. Afterwards, he and his three siblings were independently raised by their mother Gloria Carter.

Shawn took his early education from Trenton Central High School in New York City. Later, he enrolled in K605 Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School for further studies and then Eli Whitney High School for higher education. He wasn’t a very industrious student at school. In fact, his education was not complete.

From early age, he was passionate about music. His interest in music exploded when his mother bought him a Boombox. During his teenage years, he started freestyling, scripting lyrics, and followed the music of popular artists at that time.


In the 90s, Shawn began taking music seriously and started rapping and perfecting his lyrics and rhymes. In the early days of his career, he wrote about his disapproval of social injustice as well as his life on street experience. When he had enough material, he went looking for a producer but unfortunately didn’t succeed.

Black Sheep of the Month – Jay Z
In 1995, together with his friends from Brooklyn, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, Jay-Z created Roc-a-Fella Records – an independent label.

In 1996, his friend Christopher, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. helped him produce his debut studio album “Reasonable Doubt”. It was warmly received and ultimately reached platinum status.

Starting from 1997, Jay-Z released an album each year. Each album garnered him success and he reached his peak at that time with his Vol.2: Hard Knock Life. This studio album sold more than 5 million copies and made Jay-Z one of the most respected and biggest artists in the rap scene. 

From 1997 to 2002, Jay-Z released more hits than any other rap artist and became very influential in the music industry.

The rapper also had a solid business instinct and a desire to achieve success outside the music industry. So, he launched his own urban clothing brand Rocawear in 2002 which instantly became successful and yielded over $200 million in its first year.

In 2003, Jay-Z made a statement that he is ending his music career. But the hiatus was short-lived. In 2006, the rapper returned on stage with Kingdom Come, a new album that got platinum status. After this, Jay-Z released three more albums, including the most popular The Blueprint 3, opened up a sports club chain, and ventured in various investment projects. In 2017, he released a new hit album called 4:44, demonstrating once again why he is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop artists.

Black Sheep of the Month – Jay Z

Awards and Accomplishments

Jay-Z has won lots of awards throughout his music career. So far, he has won more than 250 awards and has been nominated for a lot more. He has received 23 Grammy awards, which is the highest number won by a rapper. He was also inducted into the Songwriter hall of fame. Some of his most prestigious awards include Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, Billboard Music Award for Rap Artist of the Year, American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, Black Entertainment Television Awards for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rap Video, and BET Awards for Hustler of the Year.

Apart from being a successful artist, Jay-Z is also an accomplished businessman. His business portfolio includesthe popular clothing line called Rocawear, a video streaming service known as Tidal, an entertainment agency called Roc Nation, and 40/40 club. All these businesses have contributed to his net worth over the years, in millions of dollars. Jay-Z is also one of the most charitable hip-hop artists. Over the years, he has donated a great deal of money to Music for Relief, Artists for Peace and Justice, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Challenges and Setbacks

Jay-Z is no stranger to setbacks and challenges. After high school, the rapper was fully focused on his music career but he didn’t find success right away. During his search for a record label, he only met disappointment as no producer wanted to give him a record deal or offered a poor deal which wasn’t enough for the artist. After a decade of effort, he released his first record. Sadly, it didn’t help him to break into fame either. However, it was received better years later.

Black Sheep of the Month – Jay Z

The hip-hop artist has also been part of controversies. In 1999, he was accused of stabbing Lance “Un” Rivera for Q-Tip’s solo debut album in Times Square, New York City. Initially, Jay-Z did not plead guilty and denied the incident when a grand jury returned the indictment. However, he later pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge. As a result, he was sentenced for three-month probation. The artist made references to the incident and trial on a couple of his songs.

Most Known for

Jay-Z is considered as one of the greatest rappers of all time, both in terms of financial success as well as artistic influence. He has built a name for himself as an exuberant, brash, and energetic artist, combining musical snatches that range from groovy beats, 80s funk, R&B, and even Broadway tunes to create one of the most popular styles in hip hop. Throughout his music career, Jay-Z managed to achieve massive success, with albums that rank consistently at the top place in charts.

In addition to his music career and popular hip-hop albums, Jay-Z is also known for a wide range of successful business interests. In short, the rapper could be considered as an individual who could do virtually everything. Not unlike the many Black Sheep before him. We hope you enjoyed the Black Sheep of the Month. Till next time!-The Black Sheep

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