Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), known professionally as Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur and founder of Manhattan-based conglomerate talent and entertainment agency Roc Nation. He was the CEO of Def Jam Recordings and has been central to artists' creative and commercial success, including Kanye West, Rihanna, and J. Cole. He is regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop artists.
Born and raised in New York City, Jay-Z first began his musical career in the late 1980s; he co-founded the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 and released his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was released to widespread critical success and solidified his standing in the music industry. He went on to release twelve additional albums, including the acclaimed The Blueprint (2001), The Black Album (2003), American Gangster (2007), and 4:44 (2017). He also released the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) with Kanye West and Everything Is Love (2018) with his wife, Beyoncé.
Through his business ventures, Jay-Z has become the first hip-hop billionaire. In 1999, he founded the clothing retailer Rocawear; in 2003, he founded the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club. Both businesses have become multi-million-dollar corporations, allowing him to start up Roc Nation in 2008. In 2015, he acquired the tech company Aspiro and took charge of their media streaming service Tidal. In 2020, he launched "Monogram", a line of cannabis products.
One of the world's best-selling music artists, with over 140 million records sold, Jay-Z has won 24 Grammy Awards, the joint-most Grammy awards of any rapper, along with Kanye West. Jay-Z also holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200. Additionally, he is a recipient of the NAACP's President's Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Sports Emmy Award, and he has also received a nomination for a Tony Award. Ranked by Billboard and Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, Jay-Z was the first rapper honoured in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the first solo living rapper inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2013, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
When Markus met Jay Z...
"When photographing an artist, I always desire to create a work that truly defines them and can serve as a milestone in pop culture history. Those are ambitious and lofty goals, but it is what I am thinking about when I pick up my camera.
"The Rap icon walked into the shoot smiling ear to ear, saying he was happy to be working with the photographer who had created the transformative Dangerously In Love album cover of his then-girlfriend, Beyoncé. I was set to shoot a metamorphic image of Jay-Z, then transitioning from rap star to major music mogul.
"The concept was to shoot this larger-than-life personality in a Gotham-like office setting, as the businessman he had become." ~ Markus Klinko