Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Saturday, 28 June 2008 14:33 UK

Rapper Jay-Z's rise to prominence

Jay-Z has come to personify the American Dream

Six-time Grammy award-winning rapper Jay-Z will take to the Glastonbury stage this weekend amid a storm of controversy over his headline slot at the festival.

The 38-year-old musician has been blamed by some detractors for poor ticket sales, but has said he is bemused by such criticism.

"I've never actually experienced anything like that before. It's 2008, what is that about?"

"That's such old-school thinking, that's not even how the world thinks any more" he said.

Rags to riches

But whatever happens on on the festival stage, Jay-Z will have the last laugh - since his breakthrough 10 years ago he has amassed a fortune worth $320m (160m).

1996 Reasonable Doubt
1997 Vol. 1 In My Lifetime
1998 Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life
1999 Vol. 3 Life and Times of S Carter
2000 The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
2001 The Blueprint
2002 The Best of Both Worlds
2002 The Blueprint: The Gift & the Curse
2003 The Black Album
2004 Unfinished Business
2004 Collision Course
2006 Kingdom Come
2007 American Gangster

Abandoned by his father Adnes Reeves when he was 12, Jay-Z - real name Shawn Corey Carter - was raised by mother Gloria on Brooklyn's gritty Marcy housing estate in New York.

Known as Jazzy to his friends, he began freestyling at school aged nine.

Among his friends were future stars Christopher Wallace (Notorious BIG) and Trevor Smith (Busta Rhymes).

They sold copies of his first CD out of the boot of their car next to Gray's Papaya, a famous hotdog store on 6th Avenue and 8th Street in Manhattan.

But as a teenager, Jay-Z increasingly found himself drawn into the criminal underworld, and has since admitted that he was involved in drug-dealing to make ends meet.

After several unsuccessful attempts to launch a music career Jay-Z co-founded Roc-a-Fella Records with partners Damon Dash and Kareem Burke.

Jay Z
Jay-Z won Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2006

"We knew we had something that the people wanted. Instead of quitting we started from the ground up" he said.

In 1996 he released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, and despite reaching only number 23 in the US album chart, the record was a critical success.

Two years later he released his third album, Vol. 2. Hard Knock Life, which has become the hip-hop star's best-selling album to date, shifting more than eight million copies worldwide.

Over the next six years the rapper worked with some of the biggest producers including Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, releasing a new album each year.

Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z and Beyonce have never confirmed they started dating in 2002

During that time he toured with R Kelly, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Sean Paul and collaborated with Kanye West, Eminem and Ja Rule.

In 2004 Jay-Z announced his retirement from making studio albums to become president of one of hip-hop's most influential labels, Def Jam, a post he held until December 2007.

But despite this, he went on to release a further two albums.

His last, American Gangster, became the the singer's 10th number one album in the US, giving him chart success surpassed only by the Beatles.

Crazy in Love

It was rumoured that Jay-Z started dating Beyonce Knowles in 2002, but the pair remained tight-lipped about their relationship.

Amid tight security they married at a star-studded private ceremony in New York in April.

They have collaborated musically on singles such as Deja Vu, '03 Bonnie and Clyde and Crazy In Love.

As well as starting his own record company, Jay-Z cashed in on his popularity launching a clothing line in 1995.

Jay-Z and R kelly
R Kelly was booted off a tour with Jay-Z in 2004
The Rocawear label began with just two sewing machines and was eventually sold in 2007 for $204m (102m).

The rapper also co-owns the 40/40 Club in New York and basketball team the New Jersey Nets.

Jay-Z became the first non-athlete to enter into a major footwear co-venture with his S. Carter line for Reebok, which went onto become the fastest selling range the company has ever produced.

It is now rumoured that the rapper is in talks with concert promoter Live Nation over a proposed $100m (50.1m) deal which would cover the artist's recording, publishing, live shows and other rights.

While Jay-Z's credentials have extended into the world of business, his position on the A-list is assured, with a world famous wife and friends including Coldplay's Chris Martin fully backing his foray into Glastonbury.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific