In Jay-Z’s 48 years of life, which he arrived at on Monday (December 4), the Brooklyn-bred rap mogul has stockpiled a lifetime-worth of roles to match his multimillion-dollar net worth from the streets of the Big Apple all the way to Hollywood’s elite.
As one of hip-hop’s biggest record sellers of all time, a label and sports agency founder, a clothing line creator, a streaming service owner, 21-time Grammy winner, a husband and a father of three, Hov’s iconic ascension to global acclaim and recognition is unmatched. We’ve seen nearly every version of Jay that exists.
His humble beginnings as a Marcy projects hustler to a rap spitting force not to be reckoned with has kept Hov on his Ps and Qs all the way into 2017, a revelatory year for him upon the release of 4:44, his 13th studio album and prophetic testament to Black manhood.
To celebrate yet another golden year for Mr. Carter, here are 15 moments from Jay’s pre-mogul days to remind us yet again that black (especially legendary) doesn’t crack.
(Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)