Jay-Z is a Grammy-Award winning American rapper, co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records. He is widely considered one of the greatest and most successful rappers of all time. He is admired for his ability to craft lyrics
from memory, without the use of pen and paper. He claims his critically acclaimed album,
The Blueprint, was written in two days.
Jay-Z is known for his willingness to collaborate and co-produce music with other artists. In 2011, he produced the EP Watch the Throne with fellow rapper Kanye West. Following singer Justin Timberlake's return to music in January 2013, Jay-Z co-produced the single "Suit & Tie". Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce Knowles will co-headline the On the Run Tour in the summer of 2014, visiting arenas across North America.
Jay-Z Information Continued
Jay-Z chose an unconventional method of pursuing his commercial recording career. When no major label gave him a record deal, Jay-Z created Roc-A-Fella Records as his own independent label. After striking a deal with Priority to distribute his material, Jay-Z released his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt with beats from acclaimed producers such as DJ Premier and Clark Kent and a notable appearance by The Notorious B.I.G.. Although the album received critical acclaim, record sales were modest as they topped off at 420,000 units the first year. After reaching a new distribution deal with Def Jam Records in 1997, Jay-Z released his follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. The album fared better than his first, however, he was yet to break it big in the music scene.
Jay-Z's 1998 album, Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life, spawned the biggest hit of his career at the time, "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)". He also relied more on flow and brilliant wordplay, and he continued his penchant for mining beats from the popular producers of the day such as Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. Charting hits from this album included the singles "Can I Get A..." featuring Ja Rule and "Jigga What, Jigga Who". Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life would eventually become Jay-Z's most commercially successful album. It was certified 5x platinum in the United States and has to date sold over 8 million worldwide. In 1999 Jay-Z released Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter. Despite continued criticism for his increasingly pop-oriented sound, the album proved to be successful and went platinum three times and sold over 5.6 million records worldwide.
Jay-Z's 2001 album The Blueprint is considered by many to be one of hip hop's "classic" albums, receiving the coveted "5 mic" review from The Source magazine. The Blueprint was applauded for its production and the balance of "mainstream" and "hardcore" rap, receiving recognition from both audiences. Eminem was the only guest artist on the album, producing and rapping on the single "Renegade". The Blueprint also includes the popular "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Takeover," a song which takes on rivals Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas. A large portion of the material on this album was produced by Kanye West, which was one of his first major breaks in the industry.
In 2003, Jay-Z toured with 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Sean Paul while finishing work on what was announced as his final album, The Black Album. Notable songs on the album included "What More Can I Say", "Dirt Off Your Shoulder", "Change Clothes", and "99 Problems".