How Jay-Z Became Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire

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Shawn Corey Carter, known professionally as Jay-Z, was born on December 4, 1969, in New York City, and is known as a rapper, songwriter, record executive, businessman, and record producer. He is widely recognized as one of the most significant hip-hop artists in history, and is frequently referred to as one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time. 

Jay-Z first began his musical career after he founded the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, and resulted in the release of his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was issued to extensive critical success and established his reputation in the music industry. He has since gone on to release twelve more albums. Some of his most popular albums include The Blueprint (2001), The Black Album (2003), American Gangster (2007), and 4:44 (2017). He’s also released full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) with Kanye West and Everything Is Love (2018) with his wife, Beyoncé.

Jay-Z is one of the best global best-selling music artists, with over 50 million albums and 75 million singles sold worldwide. He’s received 23 Grammy Awards, the most by any rapper, and holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200, with 14. He has been ranked by Billboard and fellow music magazine Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2017, he became the first rapper to be accepted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2018, he received the commemorative Salute to Industry Icons Award at the 60th Grammy Awards. In June 2019, Jay-Z became hip-hop’s first billionaire, making him among the top wealthiest black Americans and the 2nd wealthiest American musician to date. In December 2020, Jay-Z launched a line of cannabis products called “Monogram”.

Beyond his musical career, Jay-Z has also achieved notable success and media attention for his career as a businessman. In 1999, he founded the clothing company Rocawear, and in 2003, he founded the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club. Both businesses have grown to become multi-million-dollar corporations and funded Jay-Z’s start-up for the entertainment company, Roc Nation, founded in 2008. In 2015, he acquired the tech company, Aspiro, and took control of their media streaming service, Tidal.

Jay-Z’s substantial assets include his own $75 million music catalog, a $70 million art collection, $120.85 million in real estate, stakes in companies like Uber, ownership of the Roc Nation management company, the D’Ussé cognac he co-owns with Bacardi sells almost 200,000 cases annually and is worth $100 million, the Ace of Spades champagne he shares with Armand de Brignac is worth an estimated $310 million, and Tidal which is now worth $100 million. His 14 number-one albums, 23 Grammy awards, and made an estimated over $500 million in pretax earnings in a decade. Despite this, he still created time to tour the world with his wife, Beyoncé (worth approximately $355 million herself).

Jay-Z’s incredible journey to the top of his game is the modern-day representation of the American dream. He’s come a long way from selling drugs on the streets of Brooklyn to sharing his life with one of music’s most influential and successful female performers. His priceless experiences are what will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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