JAY Z (born Shawn Corey Carter, December 4, 1969) is an American rapper and businessman. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America having had a net worth of over $450 million in 2010. He has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide, while receiving ten Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous additional nominations. He is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation. As an artist, he holds the record for most #1 albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. JAY Z was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of the 2000–2009 decade by Billboard Magazine and ranking as the 5th top solo male artist and as the 4th top rapper.
JAY Z began his career by performing on tracks by fellow rapper Jaz-O during the early 1990s. Under his own record label Roc-A-Fella Records co-founded with friends Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, JAY Z debuted in 1996 with “Reasonable Doubt,” which peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200. Its singles included “Ain't No Nigga,” which featured Foxy Brown and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and “Can't Knock the Hustle,” which featured Mary J. Blige and reached #7 on the rap chart.
JAY Z's follow-up “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1” reached #3 on the Billboard 200 with the help of popular producers Sean Combs and Teddy Riley. Singles from the album included “Who You Wit,” “(Always Be My) Sunshine” and “The City is Mine” which were all Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart.
In 1998, JAY Z released “Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life,” which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and included two singles that reached the Top 20 spots of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, “Can I Get A...” featuring Amil and Ja Rule and “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).” “Vol. 2” was certified 5x platinum in the U.S. and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1999.
Another successful chart-topping album, “Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter,” followed in 1999, with the Hot 100 Top 40 hit single “Big Pimpin'” featuring UGK. Other popular singles on the 3x platinum album included “Jigga My Nigga” and “Girl’s Best Friend.”
JAY Z's 2000 album “The Dynasty: Roc La Familia” was again #1 and included the hit single “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” and many guest performances by Roc-A-Fella artists.
JAY Z's 2001 album “The Blueprint,” was the first in a trilogy of albums under that title. “The Blueprint” included two Hot 100 Top 20 singles “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” The double platinum album featured soul-based sampling and production handled primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze.
“The Blueprint2: The Gift & The Curse” followed in 2002, with two singles reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, “'03 Bonnie & Clyde” featuring JAY Z's future wife Beyoncé Knowles and “Excuse Me Miss” featuring Pharrell Williams. “Guns & Roses”, a track featuring rock musician Lenny Kravitz, and “Hovi Baby” were two successful radio singles on the 3x platinum album as well.
In 2003 he appeared on his future wife Beyoncé’s #1 hit single, “Crazy In Love” which won Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 46th Grammy Awards.
JAY Z planned his 2003 album “The Black Album” to be his final album. “The Black Album” included the Hot 100 Top 10 hits “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and “Change Clothes,” went triple platinum, and inspired a bootleg by Danger Mouse titled “The Grey Album” that mashed up JAY Z's album with The Beatles' “The White Album.” “99 Problems” from “The Black Album” won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2005.
In 2004, “Numb/Encore” a mashup of Linkin Park’s “Numb” and JAY Z’s “Encore” appeared on Linkin Park’s album “Collision Course.” “Numb/Encore” won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the Grammy Awards of 2006.
JAY Z became president of Def Jam Recordings in 2005 and resumed his rap career in 2006 with “Kingdom Come.” That album reached #1 and went double platinum. “Show Me What You Got” was another Hot 100 Top 10 hit.
He appeared on the #1 hit single, “Umbrella” by R&B singer Rihanna in 2007 and earned Rihanna and JAY Z a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in addition to receiving nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
The concept album “American Gangster” which was inspired by the film of the same name, followed in 2007. This tied the record of consecutive #1 albums by a solo artists on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum.
JAY Z appeared on the T.I. track “Swagga Like Us” that was originally supposed to appear on “The Blueprint 3” before JAY Z removed all auto-tuned tracks from the album. “Swagga Like Us” won the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 51st Grammy Awards.
In 2009, JAY Z surpassed Elvis Presley as solo artist with the most albums to have had reached #1 on the Billboard 200, after the release of his 11th studio album “The Blueprint 3.” The album’s hit single, “Run This Town” featuring Rihanna and Kanye West won the Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2010 and “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” won the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. In 2011 “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys won the Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. His collaboration with Swizz Beats on the track “On to the Next One” also won the award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or a Group, his 13th Grammy Award to date.
“Magna Carta... Holy Grail,” JAY Z’s 12th solo studio album, was released in 2013. t was made available for free digital download for Samsung customers by the JAY Z Magna Carta app. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 making it Jay-Z's 13th consecutive studio album to top the chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA for shipments of 1,000,000 copies, due to the unprecedented digital download deal with Samsung.