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The Evolution of Jay Z

Take a closer look at Jay Z - the musician, mogul, humanitarian, sports fan, husband, father, and stunning success story out of the Brooklyn projects.

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    One of the world's best-selling artists of all time, Jay Z, was born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z grew up in Marcy Houses, a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, and is the youngest of four children. He was raised almost entirely by his mother Gloria. His father abandoned the family when young Shawn was eleven.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z claims in his lyrics that in 1982, at the age of 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. "Saw the devil in your eyes, high off more than weed, confused, I just closed my young eyes and squeezed, what a sound, opened my eyes just in time to see you stumbling to the ground."
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Rapper AZ was one of Jay Z's classmates at Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down. Then Jay Z attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with Biggie Smalls and Busta Rhymes. Jay Z's third and final high school before dropping out was Trenton Central High School in Trenton, NJ.
    Photos: Wireimage (left) and Getty Images (right)
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    In his lyrics, Jay Z describes selling crack during his teens and how he was shot at three separate times.
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    According to his mother, Jay Z used to wake his siblings up at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. Eventually, she bought him a boom box for his birthday, sparking his interest in music. He began freestyling and writing lyrics.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Shawn Carter's childhood nickname was Jazzy, which eventually developed into his stage name, Jay-Z. The moniker is also a tribute to his musical mentor Jaz-O as well as the J/Z subway stop near his childhood home. In July 2013, he announced he was dropping the hyphen from his showbiz name.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Jay Z can briefly be heard on several of Jaz-O's early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including "The Originators" and "Hawaiian Sophie". Jay Z was also involved in several battles with LL Cool J in the early '90s.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    He first became known to a wider audience when he was featured on the posse cut "Show and Prove" on the 1994 Big Daddy Kane album Daddy's Home. Jay Z has been referred to as Big Daddy Kane's hype man during this period.
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    Jay Z's first official single was "In My Lifetime", for which he also shot his first music video. An unreleased music video was also produced for the B-side, "I Can't Get With That."
    Photo: Getty Images
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    With no major label deal, Jay Z sold his music out of his car. With Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs, he created the Roc-A-Fella Records label in 1995.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    After striking a distribution deal with Priority Records, Jay Z released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, which made it to #23 on the Billboard 200.
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    His follow-up was released by Def Jam in 1997. In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 was heavily autobiographical and related stories from his difficult childhood. It was recorded during what Jay Z has referred to as one of the most stressful periods of his life. He was reeling from the murder of his friend Notorious B.I.G.
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    Jay Z had come to believe that record executive Lance "Un" Rivera was behind the bootlegging of his fourth album Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter. On December 1, 1999, he allegedly stabbed Rivera at the release party for Q-Tip's album Amplified at the Kit Kat Klub in Times Square. Jay Z's associates at the party were accused of causing a commotion within the club while Jay Z supposedly stabbed Rivera in the stomach.
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    Jay Z surrendered to police the following evening and was placed under arrest. He was soon released on $50,000 bail. When he was indicted in Manhattan Criminal Court in late January 2000, he pleaded not guilty; he and his lawyers contended that they had witnesses and videotapes proving he had been nowhere near Rivera during the incident. Nevertheless, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and accepted a three year probation sentence.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z's 2000 album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia helped introduce new producers The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Kanye West, and Bink.
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    Jay Z would work again with Kanye West in 2001 on the classic album The Blueprint. It is considered one of the most significant breaks in West's early career.
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    Jay Z's next album, 2002's The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse found him collaborating with his future wife Beyonce on "Excuse Me Miss" and "'03 Bonnie & Clyde".
    Photo: Getty Images
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    On the album, Jay Z also collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, the widow of Faith Evans, and, again, his close friend Kanye West.
    Photo: Splash News
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    On November 25, 2003, Jay Z held a "retirement" concert at Madison Square Garden with all proceeds going to charity. Guests included The Roots, Missy Elliott, Beanie Siegel, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Twista, Ghostface Killah, Foxy Brown, Pharrell, R. Kelly, and many others.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    The retirement was short-lived as various side projects and appearances soon followed, including a collaboration with R. Kelly.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    On October 27, 2005, Jay Z headlined New York's Power 105.1 annual Powerhouse concert. The show was entitled "I Declare War", leading to intense speculation in the weeks preceding the event on whom exactly Jay Z would declare war. The theme of the concert was Jay Z's position as President and CEO of Def Jam, complete with an on-stage mock-up of the Oval Office.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Many artists made guest appearances at the show, such as artists from the old roster of Roc-A-Fella Records, as well as Ne-Yo, T.I., Young Jeezy, Akon, Kanye West, Paul Wall, and Diddy.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    At the conclusion of the concert, Jay Z put speculation to rest. The most significant development of the night was closure to the infamous beef between Jay Z and Nas. The two former rivals shook hands and shared the stage together to perform a medley of Jay Z's "Dead Presidents" and Nas' "The World is Yours".
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z headlined Glastonbury in 2008, becoming the first major hip hop artist to headline the British music festival. The decision to book him was met with great criticism from Oasis' Noel Gallagher. In response to Gallagher, Jay Z opened his Glastonbury set with a tongue-in-cheek cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall".
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Among his many musical endeavors, Jay Z has ventured into producing Broadway shows. Along with Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Jay Z helped produced the play "Fela!", a musical celebrating the work of the late Nigerian musical pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti.
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    In 2012, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced that Jay Z would be the curator and the headliner for the first annual "Budweiser Made in America" Festival held in Fairmount Park. This festival is still going strong two years later.
    Photos: Splash News (left) and Rolling Stone magazine (right)
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    Jay Z is known to write lyrics in his head, a style popular with many MCs such as The Notorious B.I.G., Everlast, Bobby Creekwater, and Guerilla Black.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z and Beyonce began dating in 2002. For Beyonce's 24th birthday, Jay Z spent over $1 million on gifts, including a diamond ring and watch.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Photo: Splash News
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    Jay Z and Beyonce managed to keep their 2008 wedding intimate, under wraps and out of the media. The couple only had about 40 guests, and it was held at Jay Z's penthouse apartment.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay and Bey combined their last names upon marriage. Jay Z's legal name is now Shawn Corey Knowles-Carter.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Their daughter Blue Ivy was born on January 7, 2012. That same week, Jay Z released "Glory", a song dedicated to her on LifeandTimes.com.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Because Blue's cries were included at the end of the song and she was officially credited on the song as "B.I.C", at 2 days old she became the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart when "Glory" debuted on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at #74.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Jay Z and Beyonce trademarked daughter Blue Ivy Carter's name.
    Photo: Splash News
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    It hasn't only been their wedding that's been secretive. The couple generally avoids discussing their relationship. Beyonce has stated that she believes that not addressing their relationship in interviews has helped strengthen their marriage.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Well... at least until recently they've kept a pretty low profile in the tabloids.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Back to business... Jay Z has sold more than 75 million records and received 17 Grammy Awards.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with 13. On December 11, 2009, Jay Z was ranked as the tenth most successful artist of the 2000s by Billboard as well as the fifth top solo male artist and fourth top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    In addition to his music, Jay Z has made a name for himself as an extremely successful entrepreneur and investor.
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    As of 2014, Jay Z's net worth is roughly $520 million, according to Forbes magazine.
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    Jay Z is the former president of Def Jam Recordings (2004-2008), co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    He is a co-creator of the clothing line Rocawear, and sold it for $204 million in 2007. In 2005, Jay-Z became an investor in Carol's Daughter, a line of beauty products.
    Photo: Rolling Stone magazine
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    Jay Z serves as co-brand director for Budweiser Select and collaborates with the company on strategic marketing programs and creative ad development.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z co-owns the 40/40 Club chain, sports bars and lounges with a Manhattan flagship location that opened in 2003.
    Photo: Splash News
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    The name is borrowed from the baseball term used to denote the exclusive group of Major League Baseball players who have achieved the rare individual feat of recording 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Obviously, Jay Z is a huge sports fan.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    He founded the sports agency Roc Nation Sports and is a certified NBA and MLB sports agent.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    He is a partial owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Jay Z is also credited as the executive producer of the basketball video game NBA 2K13, where he worked on the look and feel of the game along with its soundtrack.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Jay Z published an autobiography in 2010, Decoded.
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    Jay Z stated in an interview that his favorite cereal is Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries.
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    With his staggering empire, Jay Z also does his fair share of charity work.
    Photo: Splash News
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    Jay Z pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross' relief effort after Hurricane Katrina.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Photo: Getty Images