Black + Iconic: Jay-Z

Jackson State University senior D’Mia reflects on the hip-hop icon's journey from MC to music executive to rubbing shoulders with the politically powerful.

Shawn Carter made a name for himself in the mid-90s as a premier hip-hop artist emerging from Brooklyn’s Marcy Houses. Taking the moniker Jay-Z, an evolution of his nickname "Jazzy," before long, his lyrical skills led him to experience chart success and high record sales and soon he was also helming Roc-A-Fella, a record label that has pushed R&B and hip-hop acts for nearly 20 years. He has served as the president of Def Jam Records, launched successful entertainment company Roc Nation, and was named “hip-hop’s first billionaire” by Forbes magazine in 2019.

Of course, it’s no secret that Jay-Z is married to Beyonce’ making them one of the biggest ever superstar couples. But did you know that they have collaborated on no fewer than 23 songs, according to Apple Music? The most successful of them was “Crazy in Love,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won two Grammy Awards.

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