Shawn Corey Carter, known professionally as Jay-Z, is an American rapper, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, and record executive. Considered among the best American rappers of all time, he is regarded as one of the world’s most significant cultural icons and has been a global figure in popular culture for over two decades. Take a look below for 38 more fun and fascinating facts about Jay-Z.
1. He was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City and raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
2. After their father, Adnis Reeves, abandoned the family, Shawn and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter.
3. Reeves would later meet and reconcile with Jay-Z before dying in 2003.
4. Jay-Z claims in his lyrics that in 1982 at age 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry.
5. Along with future rapper AZ, Carter attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down.
6. He then attended the nearby George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with future rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, followed by a stint at Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, though he did not graduate.
7. According to his interviews and lyrics, during this period he sold crack cocaine and was shot at three times.
8. According to his mother, Carter used to wake up his siblings at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table.
9. She bought him a boom box for his birthday, sparking his interest in music.
10. He began freestyling and writing lyrics.
11. Known as “Jazzy” around the neighborhood, Carter later adopted the showbiz/stage name “Jay-Z” in homage to his mentor Jaz-O.
12. Jay-Z can be briefly heard on several of Jaz-O’s early recordings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “The Originators” and “Hawaiian Sophie.”
13. Jay-Z became embroiled in several battles with rapper LL Cool J in the early 1990s.
14. He first became known to a wide audience on the posse cut “Show and Prove” on the 1994 Big Daddy Kane album Daddy’s Home.
15. Jay-Z has been referred to as Big Daddy Kane’s hype man during this period, although Kane explains that he didn’t fill the traditional hype man role, and was instead basically making cameo appearances on stage.
16. The young Jay-Z appeared on a popular song by Big L, “Da Graveyard”, and on Mic Geronimo’s “Time to Build”, which also featured early appearances by DMX and Ja Rule in 1995.
17. His first official rap single was called “In My Lifetime”, for which he released a music video in 1995. An unreleased music video was also produced for the B-side “I Can’t Get with That.”
18. Jay-Z is married to American singer Beyoncé.
19. In 2002, Jay-Z and Beyoncé collaborated for the song “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”.
20. Jay-Z also appeared on Beyoncé’s hit single “Crazy in Love” as well as “That’s How You Like It” from her debut album Dangerously in Love.
21. On her second album, B’Day, he made appearances on the 2006 hits, “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U”. In the video for the latter song, she comically imitates his appearance.
22. The couple generally avoids discussing their relationship.
23. Beyoncé has stated that she believes that not publicly discussing their relationship has helped them. Jay-Z said in a People article, “We don’t play with our relationship.”
24. They kept a low profile while dating, and married in April 2008.
25. It became a matter of public record on April 22, 2008, but Beyoncé did not publicly debut her $5 million Lorraine Schwartz-designed wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008, in New York City.
26. Beyoncé and Jay-Z were listed as the most powerful couple for TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006.
27. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood’s top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million.
28. They made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.
29. At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child and on January 7, 2012, she gave birth to their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
30. On January 9, 2012, Jay-Z released “Glory”, a song dedicated to their child, on his social website LifeandTimes.com.
31. The song detailed the couple’s pregnancy struggles, including a miscarriage Beyoncé suffered before becoming pregnant with their daughter.
32. 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 two 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 number 74.
33. On June 18, 2017, Beyoncé’s father Mathew Knowles confirmed that she had given birth to twins with Jay-Z, a daughter, Rumi, and a son, Sir.
34. In 2003, Jay-Z, together with his mother, founded The Shawn Carter Foundation, which has assisted eligible students facing socio-economic hardships through college.
35. On August 9, 2006, he met with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at the organization’s headquarters in New York City.
36. Already on the look-out for a way to, in his own words, “become helpful”, he had been made aware of this issue during a visit to Africa by Bono from the rock group U2.
37. Jay-Z has previously stated in a song that “the greatest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous” and, in 2013, it was revealed by author dream hampton, who co-wrote Jay-Z’s book Decoded, that he quietly established a trust fund for Sean Bell’s children.
38. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Jay-Z and Beyoncé supported presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at her rally in Cleveland. Clinton praised Jay-Z for addressing racism, oppression, and the criminal justice system.