Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z) is a highly successful businessman who co-owns The 40/40 Club (a chain of sports bars) and the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. He’s founded or co-founded a clothing line (Rocawear), Roc-A-Fella Records and Roc Nation (a 360 music management company). He’s also a former CEO of Def Jam Recordings.
However, Carter’s most successful business endeavor didn’t originate from the board room but from the recording studio. Shawn Carter is better known by his stage name Jay-Z.
A Brooklyn native, Jay-Z began his recording career in 1996 with the release of Reasonable Doubt. Since then, Jay-Z has released ten solo studio albums, four collaborations and six compilations.
His 2009 effort, The Blueprint 3, reached number one on the Billboard 200 giving Jay-Z the record for the most chart topping albums by a solo artist. His 11 number one albums are only surpassed by The Beatles and their 19.
While the nation suffered through the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Jay-Z released The Blueprint, perhaps the greatest hip hop album of all-time. Amazingly, nine of its 15 songs were recorded in two days.
Other major releases in Jay-Z illustrious career include Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998) and The Black Album (2001).
Jay-Z has sold more than 30 million albums in the U.S. and he’s won eight Grammy Awards. He’s probably the most successful hip hop artist of all-time.
Carter acquired his nickname from his both his mentor Jaz-O as well as the J/Z subway lines that stopped near his Brooklyn neighborhood.
Throughout his career Jay-Z has worked with an impressive list of hip hop artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Diddy, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Eninem, Pharrell, and DMX.
The rapper has also been involved in highly publicized feuds with Nas, Prodigy, Damon Dash and Noel Gallagher of Oasis.
In 2001, Jay-Z pleaded guilty to stabbing producer Lance “Un” Rivera at a New York City night club. Jay-Z was eventually sentenced to three years probation.
Jay-Z is married to R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles. The couple was married on April 4, 2008. Jay-Z presented Knowles with a $5 million dollar wedding ring.