American Hip Hop artist Jay Z turned 51 on December 4, 2020. The Grammy-winning rapper, record producer/executive, businessman started his career in the early 90s. Originally named Shawn Corey Carter, Jay Z was born and brought up in Brooklyn, New York.
Jay-Z and his two friends founded their own company, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt (1996), which went on to sell more than a million copies in the United States.
Jay Z's 1998 album Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life was his first to top the Billboard 200 album chart and also won him his first Grammy Award, for best rap album. The critically acclaimed The Blueprint (2001) also featured the blockbuster hit “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” and solidified his status as one of the major voices in the hip-hop industry at the dawn of the 21st century.
Jay-Z is married to pop sensation Beyoncé and the couple are parents to two children. In 2018 he and Beyoncé, together known as the Carters unveiled the collaborative album Everything Is Love, for which they won the Grammy for best urban contemporary album.
Take a look at the legendary artiste's songs that might make a place in your playlist
Ni**as in Paris (2011)
This hit song that also won Jay-Z a Grammy Award for best rap song features Kanye West as well. The song is a part of Jay-Z's 2011 album Watch the Throne. The song is crafted around a synth bell loop from the Dirty South Bangaz music library.
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (1998)
This was Jay-Z’s first single to break into the Top 15 of the pop charts. It is a monster hit, a vivid, melancholy that traces his rise from “from lukewarm to hot; sleepin’ on futons and cots/to king size.” The video of the song had Jay-Z performing outdoors in Brooklyn, New York and even had an appearance by Dame Dash.
Public Service Announcement (2003)
This is a standout track from Jay-Z's The Black Album and happens to be one of his most popular live concert staples. It’s a wide-ranging, pun-heavy tune that ranks in the upper echelon of his extensive catalogue. In 2005, The Black Album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Brooklyn's Finest (1996)
Brooklyn’s Finest remains a magnificent record of two Brooklyn greats together in peak form, Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G. The song is part of the album Reasonable Doubt that includes guest appearances from Memphis Bleek, Mary J. Blige and Jaz-O among others.
99 Problems (2004)
The song became iconic enough that the then US President Barack Obama brought it to the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner after Jay-Z and Beyoncé's controversial visit to Cuba, he said, “I’ve got 99 problems and now Jay-Z is one,” to hearty laughs.