Born Shawn Corey Carter, Jay-Z’s rags-to-riches story is the stuff the American dream is made of. After guesting on various rap tracks, Jay released his debut single. In My Lifetime was recorded in 1995 but, with no representation, the rapper resorted to selling CDs from the back of his car. Shortly after, he founded Roc-A-Fella Records, with Damon Dash and Kareem Burke. His first album, Reasonable Doubt, was released in ’96.
Reasonable Doubt cemented his position as a noteworthy rapper, and he has since gone on to release 12 further albums, including the critically-acclaimed The Blueprint, The Black Album and Watch the Throne.
However, not content with establishing himself as one of the most influential rappers of his generation, Jay-Z has also achieved success as a businessman, founding a clothing range and a chain of luxury sports bars. As of 2019, he became the first rapper to achieve billionaire status.