Think it’s safe to say Jay Z is one of the greatest rappers, ever? Topping majority of the “best rapper” lists that exist – most recently Billboard’s Top 10 Hiphop Artists of All-Time – Jay Z has used his love for music and urban culture to expand his brand to everything affecting the hiphop lifestyle and beyond from his champagne deal and clothing line to his ownerships titles in the Brooklyn Nets and Tidal. That’s pretty great.
He celebrates his 46th birthday on December 4 and to commemorate the born day of the Brooklyn rapper and business mogul, we compiled a list of facts you may not have known about him that made him the guy he is today.
Read on below!
1. If you’re not too familiar with his 1997 track “You Must Love Me”: When Jay was 12, he shot his 16-year-old brother who was addicted to drugs. His bro lived and luckily did not press charges.
2. Jay Z was once shot at 3 times. The kid shooting a TEC-9 was within 6-feet of him, but missed each time. Hov called it “divine intervention.”
3. The rapper came up $204 million when he sold Rocawear to the Iconix Brand Group. The label was named after his Roc-a-Fella Records label co-founded by Dame Dash and Kareem Burke.
4. His original rap name was Jazzy, but “Jay Z” was derived from a salute to his mentor rapper Jaz-O. The J and Z also represented the subway lines he used growing up in Brooklyn, NY.
5. Jay Z has 19 Grammys to show for the success of his 12 albums. He ranked all of his albums on his Life & Times website back in 2013 and named Reasonable Doubt his best. That album was his only solo project that didn’t top the first three spots on Billboard charts; it came in at no. 23.
6. Jay Z, Busta Rhymes and Biggie Smalls all attended Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn where Jay and Busta once battled.
7. Jay Z’s legal name is Shawn Knowles-Carter. Reports say he hyphenated his name with his wife Beyonce’s so “Knowles” could live on since Beyonce’s parents didn’t have any sons.