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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jay-Z

Jay-Z
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Jay-Z (birth name Shawn Corey Carter) celebrates his 42nd birthday today (Dec. 4) along with a milestone of career achievements. Since releasing his debut album 'Reasonable Doubt' in 1996, Hov has sold over 50 million albums worldwide and garnered countless of hit singles. According to Forbes magazine, his net worth is at $37 million thanks to his constant touring and his expansive portfolio, which includes his Rocawear clothing line, 40/40 nightclubs and co-ownership of the officially renamed basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets. Next year, he will enter a new phase of his life — fatherhood.

Jay-Z has come long way from the rough streets of his native hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. Check out PopCrush's list of the 10 Things You Might Not Know About Jay-Z and celebrate his accomplishments as a rapper and businessman.


10

He never wanted to be famous.

 
 

In an interview with the BBC a while back, Jay-Z shockingly revealed that he never wanted to be famous. "I never wanted to be a famous person," he said. "My intentions was to tell a story and to tell a truth. My constant battle is my life is here and what I'm writing is over here and somehow take those two worlds and blend them that's organic and real."

 
9

He didn't graduate from high school.

 
 

Jay-Z attended three different high schools but never graduated. Nevertheless, he continues to learn through life lessons he discovered through business, music and entertainment. "I'm hungry for knowledge," he told Men's Health. "The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That's what this world is about. That's what you should be doing your whole time on the planet. Then you feel like, 'My life is worth everything. And yours is too.'"

 
8

He earned his first No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 'Empire State of Mind.'

 
 

In his 15-year career, he never had a solo No. 1 song until 'Empire State of Mind,' his New York City anthem featuring Alicia Keys. Jay-Z feels the song's appeals to everyone even if they are not from the Big Apple. "'Empire State of Mind' is about inspiration, it's about hope," he told MTV News. "I think that's what connects with people."

 
7

He's not a businessman, he's a business, man.

 
 

The music business has been in a state of influx ever since the advent of the Internet and digital downloads. Jay-Z recognized the change of where music was headed and created his own label, Roc Nation, in response to that change. In a interview with Forbes, Jay advises, "In business, you have to open yourself up to change. You don't have to change who you are and how you operate. If the landscape has changed then the way [you] do business has to change. The consumption of music is higher than ever."

 
6

He is the "King" of the album charts.

 
 

Jay-Z has released eleven studio albums, five collaborative albums and five compilation albums since his debut, 'Reasonable Doubt,' in 1996. His most recent LP, 'Watch the Throne,' became his 12th No. 1 album, making him the only rapper in hip-hop history to have twelve No. 1 albums. Hov is second only to the Beatles, who have 19 chart-toppers, with the most No. 1 albums among all music acts.

 
5

He used to be a horrible MC on stage.

 
 

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jay-Z admitted that when he first started out as a rapper, he couldn't move the crowd because he didn't have stage presence. "I was a horrible performer," he said. "In hip-hop, there's not many great performers. I look outside the genre, measuring myself against others. I look at Madonna's production and envy that. And I look at the way U2 can command an audience. Bono's a performer pretty much like I am. He's not a dancer; he's not jumping around. He's having a conversation. He's using his stillness as movement."

 
4

He believed in America's resolve after 9/11.

 
 

Jay-Z's classic album 'The Blueprint' was released on September 11, 2001, the most tragic day in American history. Ten years later, he feels America and New York City has rebounded greatly from 9/11 with a strong sense of patriotism. “Of course [it was a] very powerful and painful day for us, but again, we ... [are] showing our resolve," he said. “We are New Yorkers, we’re known for being tough and we’re really cool once you get to know us. But we’re known for being tough, so I didn’t doubt us for one second.”

 
3

Jay-Z is the subject of a college course being taught at Georgetown University.

 
 

Hip-hop scholar, professor and author Michael Eric Dyson is teaching a course at Georgetown University dedicated to Jay-Z and his career called "Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z." Dyson believes Hov is an excellent subject to discuss in a forum of higher-learning. “We look at [Jay-Z's] incredible body of work, we look at his own understanding of his work, we look at others who reflect upon him, and then we ask the students to engage in critical analysis of Jay-Z himself,” Dyson explains about the curriculum.

 
2

Jay feels "lucky" that he made it out of the gritty streets of Brooklyn.

 
 

In his interview with Charlie Rose at the Brooklyn Museum, Jay-Z revealed that if it wasn't for his gift to rhyme and a little bit of luck, he probably wouldn't be alive today. "It took a bit a blessing from God to have a talent, my first album didn't come out until I was 26 [because] for so long I ignore that talent," he tells Rose. "It took a bit a luck because a personal friend of mine went to jail for 12 years and me and him would be together every single day. Had I not been away in London pursuing music, I would have been in jail for 12 years."

 
1

He can't wait to enter his next phase in life -- fatherhood.

 
 

So now Jay's going to be a father and he couldn't be more happy about his impending family. His wife, Beyonce, is expected to give birth in January. He vows to be a hands-on dad and be heavily involved in his child's life. "Providing -- that's not love," he tells GQ. "Being there -- that's more important. I mean, we see that. We see that with all these rich socialites. They're crying out for attention; they're hurting for love. I'm not being judgmental -- I'm just making an observation. They're crying out for the love that maybe they didn't get at home, and they got everything. All the material things that they need and want. So we know that's not the key."

 

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