Today is Jay-Z’s birthday. Let’s celebrate!
1. Jay-Z’s real name is Shawn Corey Carter. (His moniker is a derivative of his neighborhood nickname, Jazzy.)
2. As a baby he weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs. 8 oz., but didn’t give his mom any pain. That’s how she knew he was special.
3. Jay-Z taught himself how to ride a bike at the age of 4.
4. This is one of his yearbook photos. He was school chums with the Notorious B.I.G. 3.
5. His mom bought him a boom box as a way to keep him close and out of trouble.
6. Jay-Z sold crack and used a rubber band as a money clip: “The little dudes who were working with me had to earn their rubber bands… make a certain quota for the week to get the rubber band. If they did something that wasn’t thorough, like lost work or put someone on the team at risk, they got their rubber band popped.”
7. This is his old stash spot.
8. His music mentor was an East Coast MC known as Jaz-O; he featured a then 20-year-old Jay in his song, “The Originators.”
9. Jay-Z co-founded Roca-A-Fella with Dame Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke in part because he couldn’t secure his own label deal.
10. Reasonable Doubt is Jay-Z’s favorite of his own albums because “it was the first.” He also thinks it’s the best.
11. This is his signature sneaker.
12. Jay-Z officially retired from recording in 2003 after the Black Album and became the president of Def Jam.
13. After his falling out with Cristal, Armand de Brignac is his Jay-Z’s bubbly of choice.
14. He cares about the water crisis.
15. It is rumored that his rider for the Prince’s Trust Urban Music Festival in 2004 included a request to be knighted. No dice, but he and B did get to dine with Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.
16. Jay-Z is part owner of the New Jersey Nets. He has called them his favorite possession.
17. He used to really hate NAS.
Four albums in ten years n***a? I can divide That’s one every let’s say two
Two of them shits was due One was NAHHH, the other was Illmatic That’s a one hot album every ten year average
18. His nickname Hova comes from J-Hova (Jehovah).
19. In 2005, Jay-Z was devastated when his nephew Colleek D. Luckie was killed in a car crash. Luckie was driving a Chrysler 300 given to him by Jay-Z as a graduation gift.
20. This woman went on Dr. Phil because she was stalking Jay-Z.
21. Hoping to inspire others, Diddy and Jay-Z pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
22. He married Beyonce on April 4, 2008. The small, private ceremony was followed by a lavish party at his $6.85 million Tribeca apartment.
23. Jay-Z ditched his longtime record label Def Jam and launched Roc Nation. It was the “the most expansive deal yet from Live Nation.”
24. He earned his 11th No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with The Blueprint 3. This allowed him to beat out Elvis and become the current holder for the record of most number one albums by a solo artist.
25. He earned his first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Empire State of Mind.”
26. Jay-Z refers to Russell Simmons as “The Godfather.”
27. He is inspired by indie rock movement.
28. Forbes lists him at number 17 on their list of the richest black Americans. His estimated net worth is $150 million.
29. His idea of utopia: “I would have the superpower to zap all rich people and move them to the ghetto and zap the poor people to where the rich people were, so that all people could understand how each other lives. Then we figure out the rest after that.”
31. His favorite hue is Jay-Z blue.
32. Jay-Z says he would never go into politics: “Politics is too much about the perception of perfection. And I’m not perfect.”
33. He is the youngest of three siblings. His sister Andrea is a corrections officer at Rikers Island.
34. He’s anti-autotune: “To me, when you start hearing it in commercials for Wendy’s – that’s when you know it’s something to avoid. You’ll never hear me saying bling for the very same reason.”
35. Jay-Z’s favorite New Yorker was JFK Jr.
36. His favorite all-time moment was seeing Diana Ross’s infamous Central Park park performance in the rain.
37. Miley Cyrus says she’s never heard a Jay-Z song.
38. Jay-Z takes Beyonce on a pizza date every Sunday. They go to an undisclosed BYOB spot in Brooklyn.
39. He’d like to collaborate with Jack White in the future: “He can do it all, he’s a renaissance man.”
40. If he had to select an album of the decade — outside of his own work — it would be Kanye West’s Graduation.