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aintnojigga

Roc Nation's new independent distribution company Equity Distribution has recently acquired the rights to distribute Jaÿ-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt across all international markets. They have taken over from the previous distributors Freeze and Priority in North America, and Northwestside Records internationally. As part of this new deal, the Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) files are now, for the first time, available to stream on TIDAL. Reasonable Doubt is now also available to stream on YouTube Music Premium, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Napster, Pandora, Tesla, and Slacker. It is also available to purchase from iTunes. "Reasonable Doubt is one of the preeminent albums in history and we’re thrilled to distribute this classic body of work to music lovers worldwide,” said Equity Distribution President Krystian Santini, who has been an executive in the Roc Nation family for many years. “This is a landmark milestone for Equity Distribution." Launched in late-2018, Equity Distribution is a global music-distribution platform that allows aligned artists to retain ownership of their masters. The platform boasts partnerships with 125 digital service platforms in different territories across the world. “We want to help create a viable path to sustained growth for every independent artist we work with, so they can remain in control of their careers,” Santini told Variety last month. “EQ empowers artists and labels, by providing a home for them to grow and a team to support them, without taking their masters or limiting their freedom of movement." #JAYZ @EQDistro @TIDAL

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Happy Birth Day Nip. We love and miss you. The Marathon Continues 🏁💙 Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter and Nipsey Hussle, photographed at the eighth annual Roc Nation pre-Grammys “The Brunch” soirée by Lenny Santiago, as held at the La Dolce Vita estate in Bel-Air, Los Angeles on February 9, 2019. Hov is wearing a custom FRÈRE powder blue double breasted suit. The first brunch that Nipsey attended was back in 2015. The highly anticipated soirée celebrates the Roc Nation empire’s roster, renowned artists, titans of the music industry and entertainment VIPs. This year’s brunch had an “Italian Garden” theme, with bright yellow, periwinkle blue and white being the colors of choice. Handed around by waiters were endless glasses of Armand de Brignac champagne and bottomless D’USSÉ cocktails. Dining options available to the guests were steak and eggs, gelato, pasta, made-to-order waffles, and a grand Italian charcuterie station prepared by local business The Kitchen for Exploring Foods. Before he was so cruelly taken from us, Jigga had been a longtime supporter of Nipsey and his journey through musical independence. Jay viewed Nip as a little brother, and was committed to giving his physical and mental resources to the furthering of his career. In fact, the All Money In founder had signed a management deal with Roc Nation in 2018 and was taking his career to the next level under the watchful eye of Hov. The day after his untimely passing Nipsey and his Roc Nation team were due to meet with the Los Angeles Police Department to discuss ways to combat gang violence. The rapper’s close friendship with Emory Jones resulted in Nipsey partnering with PUMA in May 2018, with the company committing themselves to supporting his charity endeavors across Los Angeles. The sneaker and clothing collections Nipsey designed with PUMA will be posthumously released later this year with full support from his family. In March 2017 Nipsey and Emory collaborated on two Planes x The Marathon Continues limited edition New Era caps. The red and blue, LA-inspired caps were released exclusively at the TMC store. #JAYZ @nipseyhussle @kodaklens

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Jay-Z, Heavy D and Lil’ Kim, photographed at the opening of Puff Daddy’s soul food restaurant Justin’s in New York City on September 30, 1997. Other guests at the grand opening celebration included Mariah Carey, Michael Rappaport, Mike Tyson, Tommy Tune, Andre Harrell and Clive Davis. Named after his first-born son Justin Combs, Puff followed it up with an Atlanta location in 1998. The NYC restaurant was closed in 2007 after 10 years in business due to a need for a larger building, but a new location was never opened; the Atlanta restaurant shut down in 2012. At the time Jigga had just finished recording his second studio album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, which featured a majority of production done by members of Puff’s production team The Hitmen. The two had grown close in the wake of Biggie’s death, and when Def Jam Recordings pressured Hov to produce an album with more hits than Reasonable Doubt he knew who to call for a glossier sound. While some of the “Shiny Suit” songs that came out of the recording sessions weren’t entirely conducive with his known sound, the sessions also brought about Hov classics like “Where I’m From,” “Imaginary Player” and “Lucky Me.” #JAYZ Rest in Peace #HeavyD @lilkimthequeenbee

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Jay-Z, Fat Joe and restaurateur Jimmy Rodriguez, photographed during a Hurricane Georges benefit dinner and concert, held at Jimmy’s Bronx Café on October 6, 1998. Georges had recently killed 604 people and caused $14 billion in damages, mostly in St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Fat Joe produced the event alongside Rodriguez, the radio station Hot 97, and the Hip-Hop Has Heart Foundation. Artists who performed at the benefit included Big Pun, Noreaga, Cam’ron, Tito Nieves, José “El Canario” Alberto, Peter Gunz, Lord Tariq, Oro Solido and Tito Puente. Earlier that day Jigga and the Roc-A-Fella Records team had found out that his third studio album Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life had debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart with 352,000 copies sold. He celebrated the success with bottles of Cristal and cigars at the benefit, but kept it low-key out of the respect for those affected by the hurricane, as it would be “hard to jump up and down and yell ‘We number one!’ when people have lost their homes and lives.” Rodriguez will be well-known to those from the Boogie Down Bronx. The Puerto Rican restaurateur began his career selling seafood from the trunk of a car with his father, and later opened Jimmy’s Bronx Café in 1993. The restaurant featured a 300-seat dining room with wrap-around windows looking out to Manhattan, and served $5 million in meals in its first year. Jimmy’s uncle was a player’s agent for the MLB, and made sure those who visited Yankee Stadium stopped off at his nephew’s restaurant after the games. It would soon become a New York Yankees hangout, with players frequently hosting parties there; and some even invested in the business. In 2000 he launched Jimmy’s Uptown in Harlem. Jimmy’s Downtown followed in 2002, and then Jimmy’s City Island in the Bronx in 2003. #JAYZ @fatjoe #JimmysBronxCafe

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Jay-Z and Steve Stoute, photographed by Lenny Santiago on July 10, 2009. This private blackjack game was held after the rapper had performed on the final stop of the “Jay-Z & Ciara Live” mini-tour at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. However, while she had performed at the tour’s other three dates, Ciara had cancelled her Friday performance due to an unspecified illness. So, the Roc Nation team tapped Lupe Fiasco and Fabolous to open the show instead. During his headlining set the rapper’s Roc Boys band performed the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" before transitioning into the beat for "Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” Photos of Michael Jackson appeared on the big screen as Jay paid his friend tribute, who had passed away two weeks earlier. "Let's not wait to mourn death, let's celebrate life," Hov urged the crowd. He also said he admired the fans who had given Michael Jackson a great outpouring of love since he died, which the King of Pop hadn't gotten to see in recent years. "I needed y'all tonight. Let's celebrate life," he urged. The rumor surrounding this private game was that Hov quickly won $100,000 at the table and left soon after to fly back to New York City. In a foreshadowing moment, he had told the crowd "I hope the [gaming] tables are as good to me as you were” as he left the stage. He is wearing a Hanes tee fresh out of the bag and a pair of Oliver Peoples “Daddy B” sunglasses. On his wrist is a Audemars Piguet “Royal Oak Openworked Perpetual Calendar” timepiece. It is a favorite among serious collectors for the incredible ultra-thin perpetual movement, the open-worked dial, and the wearability of the Royal Oak case. #JAYZ @stevestoute @kodaklens

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Jay-Z, photographed during Game One of the American League Division Series playoff series between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on October 7, 2009. Hov went home happy as the Bronx Bombers won the game 7-2, and would win the series 3-0 four days later. The Yankees would then go on to win the 2009 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies a month later. That season Hov was a central fixture in the clubhouse, and in his role as the 26th man he helped spur the team to a World Series victory in November. “[Jay-Z] was a part of the team,” the team’s then-hitting coach Kevin Long told the authors of the Mission 27 book. “I don’t know if Jeet’s going to take this the right way, but he might’ve been the team captain.” His Blueprint 3 single “Run This Town” was their official season anthem, and the 5x Multi-Platinum New York celebration single “Empire State of Mind” was the Yankees’ anthem during the playoffs and final series. #JAYZ @yankees

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Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter was photographed leaving the new Roc Nation headquarters at 540 West 26th Street in Manhattan on Wednesday. Hov was at the office to have a meeting with the company’s management client Meek Mill. On July 23 the Brooklyn native and the Philadelphia rapper announced that they are linking forces to launch Dream Chasers Records under the Roc Nation umbrella. The label will work on new talent acquisition and creative strategy and marketing, among other operations. After the meeting Jay headed to a nearby heliport with his mother Gloria Carter to catch a flight to East Hampton. #JAYZ @rocnation

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Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter was photographed leaving the new Roc Nation headquarters at 540 West 26th Street in Manhattan on Tuesday morning. He has been back in his hometown for both business and pleasure; having hosted the REFORM Alliance board meeting at the Roc Nation offices last Tuesday, and then attending his niece Teanna’s 21st Birthday party in the city on Saturday. The business mogul is wearing a Planes Crown, an Acne Studios logo stamp sweatshirt, and a pair of PUMA RS-X sneakers. On his wrist is an unreleased Richard Mille RM 27-03 timepiece in white with an ultralight tourbillon movement. He is carrying one of the Planes x The Marathon Clothing limited edition blue Crowns, which was first released back in March. My understanding is there is a possibility of re-release happening soon in memory of the late, great Nipsey Hussle. #JAYZ @rocnation @planes #PlanesCrew

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Jay-Z, photographed for a feature in the British daily newspaper The Guardian by Jamie-James Medina in October 2007. The shoot was held in the Rocawear offices, located on the top two floors of the World Apparel Centre in New York City’s Garment District. The British photographer has worked with Jay on multiple occasions, including their first meeting in January 2003 during his Reebok S. Carter promotional tour in London, and following him on his 2006 “Global Express Tour.” The article focused on the upcoming release of his tenth studio album American Gangster, which was recorded in just four weeks after Jay saw an early screener of the Denzel Washington film. The album would mark the comeback that many had anticipated a year earlier on the much-hyped Kingdom Come. “It’s pretty good,” Jay told interviewer Chris Salmon. “Ranks among some of my best work.” While the project is a classic in the genre, the Def Jam Recordings President and CEO “wasn’t even thinking about putting out an album this year. But this movie really sparked a zone for me. It took me back to a creative place that I didn’t think I’d be able to go back to.” During the interview Hov agreed that he subscribed to the theory that he is the best rapper of all-time, “because I’ve accumulated the work and maintained the consistency that’s never been done in hip-hop before.” However, as he always has, he did acknowledge that “the two other people that could have done it were taken away from us before they had a chance to really fulfill their destiny. It would have been an incredible challenge for me to maintain a level with those guys. I think it would have pushed me to make even greater material.” #JAYZ @guardian @jjmworldwide

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Jay Z and Emory Jones, photographed during the rapper’s “Legends of the Summer Tour” official after-party at the now-closed Mirage nightclub in Downtown Baltimore on August 8, 2013. Earlier that evening Hov had performed for 50,000 fans alongside Justin Timberlake at the city’s M&T Bank Stadium as part of their 14-date co-headlining tour, grossing $5.1 million in ticket sales. After the show the rap mogul and his “pretty huge” entourage had headed over to the club in tinted Cadillac Escalades to celebrate his many successes. His guests included Vegas Jones, Trey Songz, Wale, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Rel Carter, Renaldo Nehemiah and Brian Axelrod. Instead of standing on the stage or partying on the VIP level, Jigga and his crew chose to place themselves by the bar and mingled with party attendees. The rap mogul ordered 10 bottles of Armand de Brignac and 10 bottles of D’USSÉ upon arrival, and throughout the night he sipped on his cognac while talking to fans, pouring and handing out glasses from his bottle collection to anyone nearby, and singing along with the Magna Carta... Holy Grail songs DJ Reddz was playing. #JAYZ @vegas_jones

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An autograph-signing Jay-Z, Beyoncé and his then-85-year-old grandmother Hattie Mae White, photographed during a game between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on May 14, 2010. The three left happy that day as the home team won the game 8-4. Earlier Hov had dined at Bar Pitti in the Greenwich Village before heading out to the game. The hand that don’t write was busy that day—as he left he had been approached in the street outside the restaurant to sign an autograph for an elderly woman. A crowd soon followed her, and Jay stopped to sign autographs for everyone. White is a mother of seven children, including Jay’s mother Gloria Carter. She raised her family in a walk-up in Brooklyn on just $20 a week, inspiring her whole family to make any circumstance work. One of Shawn’s fondest memories of his childhood is eating Yaya’s famous banana pudding. At her 90th birthday party in October 2015, Ms. White told attendees in her speech that “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” This quote would inspire the title of Beyoncé’s sixth studio album LEMONADE. On Christmas Day in 2018 the Carter family gifted their 93-year-old grandmother a bench in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Dedicated in her name, the touching inscription read “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. With love and admiration to our root, Hattie White.” #JAYZ #Beyonce

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Jay-Z, Jay Brown, DJ Clue?, Dame Dash and Damion “Damizza” Young, photographed after dining at Monty’s Steakhouse in Westwood, Los Angeles in 1998. The restaurant was famous as a hangout for Death Row Records acts, and was the site of Snoop Doggy Dogg’s acquittal party in 1996. The Roc-A-Fella Records team were meeting with Damizza in his role as the Senior Director of Programming for LA’s legendary Power 106 radio station. He worked as an executive for Emmis Broadcasting, and in this role he would also moonlight at their hip-hop stations Hot 97 in New York and Power 92 in Phoenix. At the Monty’s dinner meeting the group discussed how to best form an alliance that would benefit both parties going forward. It was Jay Brown who first introduced Jigga to Damion in ’98, helping launch a fruitful friendship.n Young’s career started in 1986 at the radio station KHTY in his hometown of Santa Barbara, California at the age of 12, making him one of the youngest program directors in history. In February 1997 he moved to Power 106 and began working closely with West Coast artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg. He also helped to revolutionize the way hip-hop format was released and used by stations. In February 1999 Damizza was named the fourth most powerful person in hip-hop by The Source magazine. In 1999 he helped orchestrate the May reunion of Dre and Snoop, and later their onstage reunions at both the MTV Video Music Awards and the producer’s “The Concert On Chronic Island” three-day festival in Oahau, Hawaii in September. From these reunions had come additional recording sessions for Dre’s second studio album 2001, and the creation of their classic single “Still D.R.E.” When previewing the album at the Interscope offices in August, Jimmy Iovine had told Dre that he “didn’t have the first single.” Dre then gave Steve Stoute a tape containing five untouched beats, and when he returned to New York he played the tape for Hov and Timbaland—with Jay declaring that he would write Dre’s first single. Continued below. #JAYZ #JayBrown @djclue @duskopoppington @damizza

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Blue Ivy Carter and her father Shawn, photographed as they arrived at the new Roc Nation headquarters at 540 West 26th Street in Manhattan on Tuesday morning. JAY-Z was in New York City to attend the third REFORM Alliance board meeting, which was held in the Roc’s boardroom; while Blue was checking in on the status of her inheritance. After growing his 2008 brainchild into a multi-national entertainment and management company, Hov has recently moved his firm fully into this larger space in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district. The Roc had already been occupying a portion of their leased 73,000 square feet in the newly constructed 166,000 square-foot property, but have now moved the rest of the RN, TIDAL, Planes, Trapstar and PUMA operations into the building. Their lease in the building, which sold for $257 million to Dallas-based Ramrock Real Estate last year, runs through to 2036. Jay and his team will sublease the top two floors at 1411 Broadway through August 2024. Roc Nation also has offices in Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin and London. #JAYZ #BlueIvy @rocnation

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Jay-Z and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, photographed backstage at the Z100 Jingle Ball concert at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 13, 2001. Sigler is best known for her role as Meadow Soprano on the critically acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos. In 2000 the actress had signed with the German-owned label Edel Music, and began recording her debut studio album. While conducting an interview with TimeOut New York magazine in August 2001, Hov had received a message on his two-way pager from Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Dame Dash stating: “Yo, Jamie from The Sopranos really wants you on her album. You interested?” Showing the journalist sitting next to him in his Chevrolet Suburban, “Isn’t this the funniest shit?” Jay said incredulously. He did not make an appearance on the album. #JAYZ @jamielynnsigler

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Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders JAY-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, photographed during the annual Roc Nation pre-Grammys Brunch, held in the observatory at the One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan on January 27, 2018. Hov is wearing a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit, a Tom Ford dress shirt and tie, and a Stetson hat bought at the legendary JJ Hatters store on Fifth Ave. At the star studded event Hov was armed with unlimited bottles of his own Armand de Brignac champagne; a far cry from the pistols he carried and dispensed during his hustling days. As he declared on “Come and Get Me” in 1999: “I keep a banger in the ankle, one in the hip. Two in the stash, one come up when I shift. I keep one under the chair where I sit—I even got a gun in the hair in the bun of my bitch.” Our focus here is the next line, which went: “Ask Biggs: every time he’d come to my crib he’d find another gun that I hid.” This fact was confirmed by Biggs in a 2016 interview with Rap Radar, recalling how each time he visited Hov at his high-rise penthouse apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey he would find guns that the rapper had hidden in case of emergencies. He would tell Jay, “We made it, you don’t have to live like this anymore!” Jigga had purchased the two-level, 5,000 square-foot apartment in the River Ridge building for $1.36 million in 1998. The four bedroom, four bathroom apartment boasted spectacular views of the Hudson River and panoramic views of New York City. During his time there he was apparently a regular visitor to the local Burger King; and Dame Dash and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith both owned property in the area. Hov lived in the apartment until 2006, then moving into the newly renovated TriBeCa penthouse he had purchased back in 2004. #JAYZ @biggsburke @armanddebrignac

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Jay-Z, photographed standing next to the famous Charging Bull bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green in the Financial District in Manhattan by Christian Lantry. The image was captured on August 17, 2001 for the cover of the September 13-20 issue of the Time Out New York magazine. The feature in the weekly magazine was conducted in support of his sixth studio album The Blueprint. That Friday Jigga had emerged from his set trailer to hundreds of screaming fans crowding around the roped-off area, all of whom had rushed to the site after hearing a rumor that the rapper would be posing for photographs on Wall Street. They held out dollar bills, books and items of clothing as he walked past, begging their hero to autograph them. “Baby, Jay-Z is standing outside my building right now!” one woman was heard frantically shouting into her cellphone. Unruffled and well-knowing of this particular scene, Hov walked past the crowd in a just-out-of-the-box pair of Air Force 1 sneakers, smiling and waving. Back in the trailer Jay would admit to journalist Margeaux Watson that sometimes this aspect of the fame stressed him out. “It’s the same as when I’m driving my car and people are like, ‘Yo, pull over and sign this for me!'” he lamented. “If I did that for every person that stopped me, I would never get to where I’m going.” Wary of sounding ungrateful for his circumstance, he quickly added, “but it’s powerful shit to be connected to so many people simply because they relate to my thoughts.” Later a weary Jay and Watson left the set in a black Chevrolet Suburban, headed to the new Roc-A-Fella Records headquarters at 79 Fifth Avenue. “I’ve only taken one vacation since I’ve been making records,” he revealed. “I owe it to myself to take some time off.” With a tired smile and a nod at his driver Romero Chambers, Hov resolved this fact with “but look, I got both hands in my pockets and the car is moving. I can’t complain; who would listen?” Jay-Z wouldn’t take a vacation until July 2002—his first ever with new girlfriend Beyoncé. #JAYZ @timeoutnewyork @christianlantry @margeauxwatson

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Jay-Z and his barber “Johnny Cake” Castellanos, photographed as they relaxed on the set of “Big Pimpin'” in the City of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago on March 5, 2000. The music video was filmed by Hype Williams during the famous Trinidad and Tobago carnival. This photograph was supplied from the personal collection of “Calvin Klein” Bacote, one of the Brooklyn kingpins who Shawn Carter worked with back in the day. The rapper referenced the unbeatable feeling of riding shotgun with Klein while carrying weight on “Allure” in 2003. The story of Shawn and Klein will be covered in a future post. Since 1996 Jaÿ-Z has expressed that he chooses to “leave that weed alone.” In his 2010 memoir Decoded he explained this choice, saying he always believed smoking weed was counterproductive to him conducting smart business—but he does partake when he is on vacation and able to fully relax. “I could count the number of times I’ve smoked trees,” he wrote. In an interview with XXL magazine in October 2009, the Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder revealed that while it was the first song he had started working on, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” was a struggle for him to finish. “That record was maybe the last one. I was touching it, then I’d leave it alone. That record was a process,” he explained. “I don’t smoke that much. Well, my man who sold weed and shit came, and he said, ‘Man, you need—man, just smoke some weed.’ I smoked some weed, and that’s how I finished ‘Izzo.’” As of July 2019, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter has taken on the role of Chief Brand Strategist for burgeoning California cannabis company Caliva in a multi-year deal. It is the billionaire’s first foray into the business of legal drug distribution, and he will play a crucial role in the 600-employee company in driving creative direction and brand strategy. Continued below. #JAYZ @staycaked @gocaliva

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Jay-Z and the late, great Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, photographed backstage after the rapper and his tour DJ had performed at the re-opening of the historic Hollywood Palladium venue on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles on October 15, 2008. The Roc Nation co-founder had been tapped to re-open the venue after a $20 million renovation. The venue was first opened in 1940 with a concert by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra. “I’m honored to play such an iconic venue,” Hov said in a statement at the time. “Just as Frank ushered in a golden era, I hope this opening will mark the beginning of a resurgence in generation defining live music.” Before he headed over to the Palladium Hov had made an appearance at the Spirit Life Awards dinner honoring Doug Morris, accompanying his protege Rihanna on the red carpet in Santa Monica. He obviously left the award presentation early so he could make it to his show. Material from his classic American Gangster album dominated the first half of the show, before Jay launched into a display of his 12 years of hits. During his set Hov brought out Memphis Bleek to perform “Do My…” and T.I. to perform “Swagga Like Us,” giving a 4,000-strong crowd a night to remember. “This was a historic night for me,” he said before exiting the stage. “I hope it was a historic night for y’all.” Less than a month after escaping a private jet crash in South Carolina, that killed four people and left him with second-and third-degree burns, it was during this show that DJ AM reclaimed his rightful place behind the decks as part of Jay’s 12-piece backup band. After Jay performed his Kingdom Come single “Show Me What You Got,” he called on the sold-out audience to “make some extra noise for DJ AM tonight.” Hov also gave a shout-out to fellow crash victim Travis Barker and the two crash victims. #JAYZ #DJAM

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“Helmet on a jet ski, you know the vibes; hit my head, forget I’m me? Oh my God” Jay Z, photographed as he rode a Sea-Doo jet ski in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the isola di Ponza in the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago on August 9, 2016. After racing around on the water with Beyoncé, the couple headed ashore and walked around the historical town of Ponza. That night they dined at Aurora, the ristorante of their friend Mia D’Alessio, on the nearby Capri Isle. At the time The Carters were celebrating the end of the European leg of Bey’s “Formation World Tour” with a cruise around Southern Europe. However, before their vacation began they had flown from Barcelona, Spain on August 4 to attend Lyor Cohen and Xin Li’s wedding at their home in Sag Harbor, East Hampton on August 6. On August 8 they flew back to Europe to begin their family vacation. #JAYZ

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Jay-Z, photographed performing during the third show of the record-breaking “Hard Knock Life Tour” at the Continental Airline Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey by Armen Djerrahian on March 3, 1999. As was his tradition on the tour, Jigga wore a local jersey: this time the one of New York Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead. While hip-hop accounted for 10% of all US album sales at the time, revenue from rap shows was minuscule, largely due in part to promoters’ lack of interest in hosting tours they believed would be plagued with violence. However, the Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam-organized 54-date “HKLT” was an overwhelming success, grossing $18 million and suffering no cancellations from the many performers. Djerrahian had been sent from Paris to cover the tour for the French hip-hop magazine L’Affiche. When Jay-Z saw this image printed as a two-page spread in a magazine, he told his Def Jam Recordings partners he needed to meet the photographer who had captured it. One of the DJ employees happened to know Djerrahian, and called him with the request. In a coincidence almost too good to be true, Djerrahian happened to be in New York City for the day, and told his connect he would be at the Roc-A-Fella Records headquarters at 17 John Street as soon as possible. In a 2010 interview with French magazine L’Abcdr du Son he recalled the moment he walked into the John Street offices, remembering how “all of a sudden the bodyguards are saying ‘it’s him! It’s the photographer!’ Everyone surrounds me, and then Jay-Z appeared. He says to me, ‘I saw your photograph, it is amazing, I want to buy it.'” Jay was then reminded of how they had met two years prior in Paris, where Armen had been given 5 minutes to shoot the rapper as he walked from his hotel to the tour bus. One of the shots he captured that day was used as the cover for the In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 international single “Wishing On A Star” in March 1998. The photographer then headed downstairs with Jay, who hopped into a waiting SUV. The rap mogul lowered the window, telling Armen “I really like your work, you’re very talented, and we may cross paths” as the vehicle drove away. #JAYZ @armenexpo #HardKnockLifeTour

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Jay-Z and Beyoncé, photographed backstage before the final concert of her “The Beyoncé Experience World Tour” at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas by Ginny Suss on December 31, 2007. The previous evening Hov had opened his third 40/40 Club at the nearby Palazzo casino resort ("I'm a major player, 40/40's in Vegas at the Palazzo, they said it was not so"). Unfortunately the sports bar would close a year later, with the Palazzo choosing to take back ownership of the space and converting it into a smaller casino. #JAYZ #Beyonce

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“Girlfriend, work with the kid, I keep you working that Hermès Birkin bag” Jay-Z, photographed leaving the Hermès boutique on Madison Avenue in New York City on December 24, 2010. The Roc Nation co-founder was heading to his new Maybach 62S, which had a base price tag of over $500,000. Hov was one of the first in the world to pre-order the 21st Century edition of the Maybach vehicle back in March 2002. After being presented as a concept vehicle at the 1997 Tokyo Motorshow, the “Maybach 57″ and the “Maybach 62″ had a delivery date set for early-2003. The Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder selected the $377,000 “62″ model over the smaller "57" model. In the first year of production only 166 Maybach vehicles were sold worldwide. That day in 2010 the rap mogul had occupied a private viewing room in the store, sharing an inventory display and meal with Steve Stoute and his daughter Sophia and restaurateur Nello Balan. With Julius de Boer guarding the door, Hov dropped an astounding $350,000 on Birkin bags and other Christmas gifts for his wife of nearly three years, Beyoncé. Just under a week later The Carters traveled to Las Vegas so Jay could perform in front of 2,500 invited VIP guests for a multi-million dollar New Year’s Eve party at the newly re-opened Cosmopolitan, and then host the show’s after-party at the hotel’s Marquee nightclub. Jay’s friend Chris Martin and his band Coldplay served as the opening act. Hov earned nearly $2 million for the appearance, and brought Bey, Kanye West and John Mayer on stage during his set. During his time at the hotel Hov reportedly booked 50 rooms for himself and Bey and their entourage and security. In an interesting “celebrity gossip twist,” Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez were both in the crowd for the show, attending with their respective then-partners Marc Anthony and Cameron Diaz. On December 30 Jay and Bey had hosted Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow and Rodriguez and Diaz for a meal at the hotel’s Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill location, which was the first one of the chain to open outside of New York City. #JAYZ

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Jay-Z, photographed at the press conference announcing his three timepiece collaboration with Audemars Piguet at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City on April 19, 2005. Hov had spent the past two years working with the luxury watchmaker on a limited “Jay-Z Edition” 100-piece run of an Audemars Piguet “Royal Oak Offshore” chronograph model. As a timepiece connoisseur, he was actively involved in the design and manufacture of his collection. “I’ve always been a big fan of Audemars Piguet,” Jay said at the time. “I didn’t pitch him on it,” he said, of the watchmaker’s North American President François-Henry Bennahmias. “It was something he came to me with.” François has been aware of Jigga’s timepiece knowledge for many years, and had even invited him to the company’s private vault in New York way back in 1997. Symbolically marking the 10th anniversary of his time in the music industry, each timepiece has a diamond-encrusted “10″ on the dial. The collection included three models in stainless steel (50 pieces, $23,500), rose gold (30 pieces, $69,500), and platinum (20 pieces, $100,000). Each timepiece came with a 40GB iPod pre-loaded with the rap mogul’s entire discography. Engraved on the back of the portable media player was Hov’s signature and the famous “Hovi Baby” lyrics: “I’m so far ahead of my time, I’m bout to start another life; look behind you, I’m bout to pass you twice.” As part of the agreement between Hov and Audemars, $500,000 was donated to the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation for his involvement in the process. After the collaboration was revealed in April, 27 pre-orders were lodged within a few days. Jay bought 12 of the timepieces himself to add to his personal timepiece collection and to gift to family and friends. #JAYZ @audemarspiguet

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Jay-Z, photographed as he smoked a Hoyo cigar in his Roc-A-Fella Records corner office at 17 John Street in Manhattan for the April issue of the United Kingdom’s Q magazine by Perou in 2000. Other shots in the photo shoot included Jay sitting behind his desk, answering phone calls in the conference room, and getting his haircut by his longtime barber “Johnny Cake” Castellanos. In 2006 Jay would hire Perou to photograph him for both an XXL cover shoot and a Rocawear advertising campaign. During their time together Hov told Perou, “you’re funny, you can stick around.” But it wasn’t all love from the Roc team—Jigga’s bodyguard Hamza Hewitt would later tell him, “if you make my boy look bad I’ll come to London and fuck you up.” Knowing the history of Hamza, this was not a threat to be taken lightly—he took the job of protecting Jay very seriously. On October 31, 2000 he was arrested at Boston’s “Summer Jam” for carrying an unlicensed .40-caliber Ruger handgun backstage while on protection duty. On April 13, 2001 Hewitt was arrested alongside Jay, Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith and his longtime chauffeur Romero Chambers, when [allegedly] a Glock G22 40-caliber pistol was found in their vehicle. Hov had been performing at Angie Martinez’s debut album release party at Club Exit—he made a guest appearance on the track “Mi Amor”—and the NYPD’s “Hip-Hop Taskforce” were staking out the club, waiting for rap artists to emerge. Jay was freed on $10,000 bail, while Hamza—as the carrier of the weapon—had to cough up $20,000. The rapper was later cleared of the charges when Hewitt plead guilty to third-degree weapons possession. He received a one-year prison sentence. Upon release he worked as a driver for Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory—the co-founder of the Black Mafia Family. #JAYZ @mrperou @rocawear

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Jay-Z and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, photographed during the rapper and LeBron James’ third annual Sprite “Two Kings” dinner event at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona by Johnny Nunez on February 14, 2009. It has been announced today that the New York Times best-selling author’s new book “JAY-Z: Made in America” will examine Shawn Carter as a cultural icon in celebration of his 50th birthday. The book will chart the evolution of his work and thinking, and feature in-depth analysis of his most famous lyrics and songs. Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, has investigated and championed hip-hop as an art form for decades. In 2007 Hov wrote the introduction to Dyson's "Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop.” “This book is the fruit of a decade of teaching about one of the greatest poets this nation has produced,” Dyson told Entertainment Weekly. “JAY-Z is not only a remarkable recording artist and ingenious businessman, but he is one of our most gifted wordsmiths whose language drips with all the poetic tricks and skills you’ll find in Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long ... This book wrestles with the biggest theme of his career, hustling, and what it looks like when it shows up illegally in the underground and how it looks when it’s part of legitimate society ... I thought this was the perfect time to take a look at JAY-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today. In many ways, this is JAY-Z’s America as much as it’s Obama’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. JAY-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by, and his lyrics have shaped the self-understanding of a culture that grapples with race and injustice and inequality everyday. He’s an important thinker and artist, and my book tries to measure his impact and acknowledge his greatness.” The book will be published on November 26, and is available to pre-order now. #JAYZ @michaelericdyson

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“School of hard knocks, I’m a grad; and that all-blue Yankee is my graduation cap” Jay-Z, photographed during the opening day game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on April 16, 2009. That day Hov went home disappointed as his team lost the game 10-2. That season Jay was a central fixture in the clubhouse, and in his role as the 26th man he helped spur the team to a World Series victory in November. “[Jay-Z] was a big part of the team,” the team’s then-hitting coach Kevin Long told the authors of the Mission 27 book. “I don’t know if Jeet’s going to take this the right way, but he might’ve been the team captain.” His Blueprint 3 single “Run This Town” was their official season anthem, and the 5x Multi-Platinum New York celebration single “Empire State of Mind” had become the Yankees’ anthem during the playoffs and final series. In an interview before his performance at Game 2 of the World Series, Hov told MTV News that "Jeter plays ‘Empire State’ every time he’s at bat. A-Rod does ‘Already Home’ and ‘Reminder.’ [Robinson] Canó does ‘Run This Town.’ It has been a Jay-Z compilation at the stadium. It’s beautiful, incredible, beyond explanation … they're out there on the field throwing the Roc sign up—it’s fantastic." #JAYZ @yankees

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Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter, Kyrie Irving, "OG Juan" Perez and the point guard's business partner Alex Jones, photographed after Kyrie signed his four year, $141 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets at the Roosevelt Middle School in West Orange, New Jersey on Sunday. Hov is wearing a Planes Crown and a Joe's Tortured Soul shirt. In June the six-time All Star, 2016 NBA Champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist left his longtime agent and signed a management deal with Roc Nation Sports, as well as forming a business partnership between the company and his Hermetic Friends entity. With Caris LeVert, Kevin Durant and Wilson Chandler also being members of the Nets family, there are now four Roc Nation Sports clients on the roster. #JAYZ @kyrieirving @rocnationsports #OGJuan @brooklynnets

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Jay-Z, photographed for promotional shots for the London-based Northwestside Records in a studio in East London by Phil Knott in 1997. The previous year the rapper’s hit single “Ain’t No Nigga” had earned him a distribution deal with Northwestside Records and their parent company BMG, with the two labels taking on the role of distributing the Roc-A-Fella Records releases in the United Kingdom, Europe, and other international markets. As explained by NWS founder Nick Raphael, “Will Socolov of Freeze Records sent me a CD and a video and said to me, ‘This guy is incredible, but he needs a bigger label to take over. Are you interested?’ The record he sent to me was ‘Ain’t No Nigga’ and I went crazy, thinking that I had to sign him! We loved his work and we wanted to be cool. We weren’t expecting him to become the seminal artist he now is.” In 1995 the Roc had signed a one-album distribution deal with Socolov’s Brooklyn-based Freeze Records, a subsidiary of the California-based Priority Records. #JAYZ @knottphil

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On the sixth anniversary of the release of JAY Z’s 12th studio album Magna Carta... Holy Grail we will be looking at the album artwork and booklet. Jay hired a 56-year-old Ari Marcopoulos to shoot the album content, with the Holland native being given free creative rein by the rapper and his creative director Willo Perron. The employment came after Jay had enjoyed Marcopoulos’ 2012 book of his black and white photography, Out To Lunch. On May 16, 2013 Marcopoulos joined Jay at Jungle City Studios during a recording session, where Jay explained each song one-by-one and then rapped them to him a cappella. The two then had a dialogue about the different subjects the project addressed, and together with Roc Nation creative Willo Perron they decided on the imagery that would fit the themes. As the photographer told Life+Times upon release, “I wanted to come up with something to add to the album, and not just illustrate it. So, we talked about art and I spent around a week photographing different images. From there, we went into the editing process, along with Willo and Brian Roettinger, the art director. In the end, what you are getting is Jay’s album and a photo book. Together, they interact with each other.” The album booklet, which was nominated for “Best Recording Package” at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, features photographs capturing the New York landscape and it’s inhabitants, as well as art pieces displayed in the city’s museums. Captures include a Polaroid of the time Jay and Beyoncé’s trip to Cuba was headlining news on CNN, the historic Grace Church in Manhattan, the Wall Street skyline, the Trinity Church graveyard, the Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the detailing on a marble sarcophagus featuring the myth of Selene and Endymion housed at the MET. The album cover is a photograph of Italian sculptor Battista di Domenico Lorenzi’s 16th century sculpture “Alpheus and Arethusa,” as displayed in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. As soon as Hov saw the image he said “this is the cover.” Continued below. #JAYZ #MagnaCartaHolyGrail @ari_marcopoulos_official

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Jay-Z, photographed as he walked the red carpet at a MTV-filmed party for The Dynasty: Roc La Familia in Northridge in Los Angeles on November 7, 2000. MTV hosted the party for Jigga to celebrate the album’s #1 debut on the Billboard 200, after it had sold 557,789 copies in its first week of release. It has since been certified 2x Platinum, with over 2.3 million copies sold in the United States alone. The party’s location was the roller rink Skateland in Northridge, with security giving the 200 guests a pair of skates on arrival. Others guests at the party included P. Diddy, Ja Rule, Heavy D, Rashida Jones, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Brandy, Carmen Electra, actress Rachel Leigh Cook, comedian Bill Bellamy, model Rachel Hunter—and of course the entire Roc-A-Fella Records family. The audio responsibilities were handled by DJ Mark Ronson. Hov performed during the party, and during his set he took the time to send a shout-out to party guest Ja Rule, OutKast (who had debuted at #2 with Stankonia), and Nelly: “[Four] hip-hop artists in the top 10, it’s a beautiful thing. Shout out to OutKast. It’s a good thing for hip-hop in general. Just to have two artists sell over half a million records in one week. It’s just incredible for both of us to do the numbers that we’re doing and come in and be #1 and #2 on the charts in the country.“ He continued, “I want to thank all the fans out there, everybody out there for making me #1 in the country. I really, really appreciate all the support over the years. This is my fifth album in four years, and they’re still right there with me, like all the way, even stronger. My first album did 34,000 units the first week, maybe 40,000. It’s a long way from half a million. It’s a long, long way.” #JAYZ @mtv

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“I put on for my city, so when I’m dead and gone, I got one last wish: put my Yankee hat on” Jay-Z, photographed while watching a game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Rays at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx on September 20, 2010. The home team took the game 8-6. That day Hov and his longtime business partner “OG Juan” Perez were sitting in Alex Rodriguez’s box seats. Jay is wearing an original 2009 World Series winners ring, which was gifted to him by A-Rod to thank him for his longtime friendship and support during the previous season. The third baseman had used “Reminder” and “Already Home” as his walk-up music during the 2009 season, and the Yankees had employed “Run This Town” as their season anthem and “Empire State of Mind” as their playoffs and finals song. After the Bronx Bombers won the World Series Hov rode on A-Rod’s players float in the victory parade; and then celebrated that night by attending an NBA game at the Madison Square Garden, dined at Nello’s, and then hosted an after-party at The 40/40 Club. Hov is also sporting a custom Yankees fitted embroidered with his famous “I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can” lyric from “Empire State of Mind” under the brim. The previous month Jay and the Bronx Bombers had released a line of merchandise that was sold exclusively at Yankee Stadium until September 14. The collaboration included this all-black fitted, as well as Jay-Z branded Yankees “Carter #4” jerseys, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. #JAYZ @yankees

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Jay Z, photographed as he left the old Roc Nation headquarters at 1411 Broadway in Midtown Manhattan on August 20, 2015. Hov is wearing a Trapstar “TS” snapback hat ($60), a Blackboyplace x Jean-Michel Basquiat tee ($110), and a pair of Diadora Borg Elite sneakers ($80). On his wrist is an Audemars Piguet “Royal Oak Carbon Concept” timepiece ($310,000). This concept piece was the first watch ever equipped with both the case and movement components in carbon. AP is known as the only watchmaker to master forged carbon technology, which makes their pieces super lightweight. If you like the Basquait tee, the French designer has recently re-released the collection of shirts and hoodies that Hov has been photographed wearing multiple times. During his “Magna Carter World Tour” he wore many custom Magna Carta Holy Grail-themed pieces designed by the brand, including “Tom Ford” and “Picasso Baby” shirts, and a black bomber jacket that Jay and Beyoncé were both spotted in. #JAYZ @bbp_paris

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🚨GIVEAWAY🚨 Peace to the ANJ fam! Want to win yourself a @Planes Crown OR t-shirt? Here is how you can enter: 1. Follow @AintNoJigga and @RapDirect (Must be following BOTH accounts to win) 2. Like this post 3. Tag 3 friends below to spread the word —— *This giveaway is not affiliated with JAY-Z, Roc Nation, Paper Planes or Instagram in any way *The giveaway will end on Friday, July 5th at 6:00PM PST *There will only be one winner. The winner will be chosen by a random user generator which filters people who commented, liked and follows both accounts. The winner will be announced on July 5th at 8:00PM PST. *Shipping international ✅ *The winner will get their choice of one (1) Planes hat OR t-shirt priced at $45.00USD from the official website. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE 🙏 #JAYZ #AintNoJigga #RapDirect

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“Would’ve brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free, except I made millions off it, you fucking dweeb I still own the building, I’m still keeping my seat Y’all buy that bullshit, you’d better keep y’all receipt” JAY Z, photographed as he performed during the first of eight shows officially opening the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn on September 28, 2012. Hov is wearing a custom “CARTER 4” version of the new Brooklyn Nets uniform that he had spent the past year designing. He later autographed ten of the jerseys for auction, with $150,000 in proceeds going to his Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. As a then-partial owner of the recently rechristened Brooklyn Nets, Hov was a key player in getting the billion-dollar arena built across the road from his old 560 State Street stash spot. To celebrate the occasion the business mogul announced he would be performing eight shows in a row, all of which sold-out within hours. What stopped Jay from doing nine or more shows? “My stamina. When I got to eight, I felt like I would probably fall over from exhaustion,” he told GQ after the historic run. “It was just eight shows. ‘Eight shows for H.O.!’ I should have done H.O. merchandise! [Slaps forehead] What the fuck is wrong with me?!” The only guest appearances during his residence were from Beyoncé and Big Daddy Kane during the first show’s encore. “We have to understand our history,” Hov told the crowd as he brought out the Bed-Stuy legend. “Shit, what an amazing feeling tonight. This night was a dream … I’ve been on many stages, been around the world, but nothing feels like tonight,” Jay told the 18,000-strong crowd. “Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn. I swear to God.” #JAYZ @brooklynnets

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Jay-Z with fan Derek Lane, photographed at a meet and greet session after the twenty-seventh “Hard Knock Life Tour” show at the Rosemont Horizon arena in Rosemont, Illinois on April 4, 1999. During the show the rapper had worn Curtis Conway’s “80” Chicago Bears jersey. In a review of the show for the Chicago Tribune, Joshua Klein wrote that Jay-Z had “almost single-handedly set some new standards at the Rosemont Horizon Sunday night” in his headlining set, having “the songs and swagger to go with the big pyrotechnics.” Derek had been a fan of Hov for a few years, and he traveled to numerous cities during the tour to see his favorite rapper perform live and attend the meet and greet sessions. When they met Jigga was “super nice, cool, humble and down to earth.” Lane and his crew were able to hang around for a bit longer after this meet and greet session concluded, and Jay signed for him his event ticket, a copy of his Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life album, and the promotional placard hung by the table. Shawn Carter’s young nephews LaVelle, Ramel, Jarrel and Colleek were accompanying him at points during the tour, along with Dame Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke’s young sons. At one point Jay turned to the group of kids and asked them what they wanted him to order them for dinner, listing off Italian, Japanese and numerous other cuisines. #JAYZ @ddoubleu_

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Jay-Z, photographed during his headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England on June 28, 2008. Hov was the first rapper to ever headline the traditionally rock festival. 11 years later the South Norwood rapper Stormzy has just become the first Black British artist and second youngest solo act to headline the iconic festival. In a move that recognized those who came before him, Stormzy opened his set with a taped conversation between himself and Hov around his upcoming performance. “The world is ready for it, so when you step on that stage you’re gonna see it, because they are really ready for it,” Jay said to the young grime star. “That’s culture. So what will you do with it now? It’s important for you to take [this moment] and create a whole culture around it. Because culture moves the world.” Hov also acknowledged the pressure he felt taking the gig back in 2008, because he knew if he didn’t kill it then it was likely that no other rapper would be invited back. In an Instagram post after his set, Stormzy wrote how he was so grateful that he was able to “open my set with words of encouragement from my hero and ultimate inspiration and the greatest rapper to ever grace Planet Earth, JAY-Z.” On February 1, 2008 it was announced that Jay-Z would headline the famed Glastonbury Festival in June. Emily Eavis, the daughter of the festival’s founder Michael Eavis, had been the one who selected Jay as headliner; and in a June 2019 interview with Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs she revealed that “Jay-Z was probably the most controversial booking we have ever made. It just felt like an out of control storm that I was just never going to get out of. Every story, every day was just negative … I didn’t see it coming. I just thought we’d booked a really good artist, who’s one of the best lyricists in the world, who can come and do a really good show.” Continued below. #JAYZ #Glastonbury /// Shout out to @stormzy 🇬🇧

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Jay-Z, photographed for a feature in the British daily newspaper The Guardian by Jamie-James Medina in October 2007. The shoot was held in the Rocawear offices, located on the top two floors of the World Apparel Centre in New York City’s Garment District. The British photographer has worked with Jay on multiple occasions, including their first meeting in January 2003 during his Reebok S. Carter promotional tour in London, and following him on his 2006 “Global Express Tour.” The article focused on the upcoming release of his tenth studio album American Gangster, which was recorded in just four weeks after Jay saw an early screener of the Denzel Washington film. The album would mark the comeback that many had anticipated a year earlier on the much-hyped Kingdom Come. “It’s pretty good,” Jay told interviewer Chris Salmon. “Ranks among some of my best work.” While the project is a classic in the genre, the Def Jam Recordings President and CEO “wasn’t even thinking about putting out an album this year. But this movie really sparked a zone for me. It took me back to a creative place that I didn’t think I’d be able to go back to.” Sitting in his company’s 39th floor conference room found Shawn Carter a long way from the Marcy Houses, where he had witnessed his first murder at just nine years old. The previous year the rap mogul had earned an impressive $83 million, which equated to around $10,000 an hour; and his personal net worth stood at just over $500 million. As for the biographical nature of the album, Hov confirmed that “the person I’m describing in this album was a younger me going through the game. Right now, I’m a much more patient person. I’m not as reckless. When you grow up in these neighborhoods and you don’t have any hope, you feel you’ll take a chance with your life to make the situation better. I don’t have those thoughts any more.” #JAYZ @jjmworldwide @guardian

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“I always knew I was a profit/prophet, but I couldn’t find a decent job/Jah Life made me ambidextrous Countin’ with my right, whippin’ white with my left wrist” Jay Z, photographed as he arrived at the old Roc Nation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan on October 5, 2016. Hov is wearing a Courtside NYC “Retired Drug Dealer” snapback hat ($45), and a pair of PUMA Suede “Allover Splatter” sneakers ($90). On his wrist is a Richard Mille RM011 “Felipe Massa” flyback chronograph rose gold timepiece ($125,000). The hat was a humorous play directed at his critics, who were still beating the same dead horse after 20 years. In a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair Jay had made financial connections between his previous career and his new one at the head of the Roc Nation conglomerate, telling contributing editor Lisa Robinson, “I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal, you need to exactly know what you can spend, what you need to re-up.” Gloria Carter knew that her son had dropped out of school and moved to East Trenton to deal crack cocaine, “but we never really had those conversations. We just pretty much ignored it. But she knew. All the mothers knew. It sounds like ‘How could you let your son…’ but I’m telling you, it was normal.” When asked if he ever felt guilty about contributing to what was becoming an epidemic, Jay said it wasn’t “until later, when I realized the effects on the community. I started looking at the community on the whole, but in the beginning, no. I was thinking about surviving. I was thinking about improving my situation. I was thinking about buying clothes.” Thankfully Shawn Carter happened to be good at rapping, and music became his “exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.” He left the crack game behind in 1994 and focused entirely on the rap game, releasing his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in June 1996. #JAYZ

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“In the Ferrari or Jaguar, switching four lanes With the top down, screaming out ‘Money ain’t a thang!'” Jay Z, photographed as he was shown around the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team’s garage following the practice session at the 2013 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on November 1, 2013. Before performing that evening at the nearby du Arena on Yas Island, Hov and his business partner “OG Juan” Perez had been invited onto the F1 paddock to get an inside look at the race, billed as the Middle East’s biggest sporting event. When he took to the stage at 9 PM he faced a technical glitch when the power went out 20 minutes into his set. Once the problem was fixed, Jay took to the stage again and finished his 90 minute set for the hyped F1-supporting crowd. “I’m from New York and Jay Z is the King of New York, so to be able to come here in Abu Dhabi to see him in concert is just something I couldn’t turn down,” said Erica Dolland, an English teacher who was watching him live for the first time. “He is a creative force and he has taken hip-hop to a whole different level in terms of expression, in terms of ideas, in terms of his words. It’s poetry set to music.” This was Jigga’s second time performing in the UAE, the first being his appearance at a Sweet 16 birthday party for the niece of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family and the Manchester City Football Club owner. Hov and Kanye West were paid $3 million each to perform their hits at the party held in December 2011. #JAYZ @ferrari @scuderiaferrari

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Jay-Z, head chef Dino Gatto, actor Harvey Keitel, Beyoncé, co-owner Ron Straci, reservations manger Susan Paolercio and restaurant manager Patrick Hickey, photographed during the filming of the rapper’s music video for “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” at the famed Rao’s restaurant in East Harlem in June 2009. In the video the rapper is seen eating fresh pasta and drinking a bottle of Rao’s Chianti Classico wine; then he, Keitel, Straci and head chef Dino Gatto conduct a poker game in the backroom with $100 bills. Opened in 1896, the Southern Italian eatery is known as New York’s most exclusive restaurant, with the ten tables always pre-booked by the 85 restaurant “owners” designated years ago. When an owner passes away, the family inherits the table. Essentially, if you want to eat at Rao’s, you have to know someone who has table rights and is willing to include you in one of their weekly or monthly dining slots. Of course, getting a table is a lot easier if your name is Jay-Z or Beyoncé. If you can’t make a connection, the second Rao’s location in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas seats 350, and the third in Los Angeles seats 100—so they are a lot easier to get into. #JAYZ #Beyonce @raoshomemade

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The album that saved Shawn Carter's life turns 23. Drop your favorite jewel below so we can all collect game. #JAYZ #ReasonableDoubt

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Jay-Z with North London grime MC Faction G, photographed during a press call session for the rap mogul’s “Global Express Tour” at The Lanesborough hotel in London by Anita Crapper on September 24, 2006. The London office of the VICE media company had brought Faction G to the session so he could meet his hero. Together they popped bottles of Krug champagne, but Faction “was unfortunately too shy to give his demo to the Def Jam head honcho.” This may have been a missed opportunity—the previous year he had signed grime rapper Lady Sovereign to Def Jam Recordings, so Jay was aware of the talent that could be found in the local scene. That evening Hov performed a sold-out show at the city’s Wembley Arena, where his tour DJ Green Lantern played “Pow! (Forward)” by local grime hero Lethal Bizzle and Jay spit a still-unreleased remix verse. It was recorded for inclusion on Hov’s planned third mixtape Presidential Invasion, but Green Lantern was asked to shelve the tape after the tour. #JAYZ #FactionG @viceuk

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“East Trenton grew me, had me skipping school” Shawn Corey Carter, Asha’s ( @phoxibrown) Aunt Stacy and her cousin, and Jaÿ-Z’s friend Panama, photographed by Asha’s mother “Ween” at her apartment in Trenton, New Jersey in the Summer of 1989. Aunt As well as the three-finger rings and gold watch his street dealings had earned him, Jaÿ is wearing a Miami Hurricanes singlet. Phade from the famed Shirt Kings crew once said that he knew the young rapper was destined for greatness as he had “created his own lane and made big fashion statements” by always wearing out-of-town supporters gear. Stacy is wearing the anchor chain that DeHaven Irby had given Shawn for his 19th birthday, custom-made by two Russian jewelers named Al and Tony who served the local hustlers. Panama was a hustling partner of Shawn’s, and they once lived together with DeHaven at his Aunt Liz’s house on Eastburn Avenue in East Trenton. Panama was the one who helped DeHaven get his first two bricks for $17,000 from their Dominican connect, thanks to his ability to speak Spanish and talk good game. “Ween” had met a 19-year-old Shawn at a hole in the wall club called Joseph’s in Morrisville, Pennsylvania—a borough connected to New Jersey by the Trenton–Morrisville Toll Bridge. Meeting at Joseph’s became a regular occurrence for them, and afterwards the two and their respective crews would head back over the bridge and dine at Nino’s Pizzeria on Calhoun Street in Trenton. Whenever she saw Jaÿ he would always be with Panama, and sometimes he would bring his rap mentor Jaz-O to Joseph’s. According to Asha’s mom, Shawn “was a real cool guy and very down to earth. He spoke to everyone and was fun to hang with.” #JAYZ

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“Hat cocked, can’t see his eyes, who could it be? With that new blue Yankee on, who but me?” Jay-Z, photographed as he watched a game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx by Al Bello on July 23, 2010. Champagne Hova went home happy as his team won the game 7-1. #JAYZ @yankees

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Jay-Z, photographed outside his hotel in Paris, France by Armen Djerrahian on April 29, 1997. Unseen is Hov’s Notorious B.I.G. sweater that he wore numerous times in memory of his friend. Across April and May a young Jay-Z had been supporting the Fugees on their “Refugee Camp” tour of Europe, held in support of their second and final studio album The Score. Djerrahian had been a fan of Jay since he appeared on the Original Flavor single “Can I Get Open?” back in 1994; so when he heard that he would be making his first tour of Europe with the Fugees, Armen rang Roc-A-Fella Records’ European and international distribution partners Northwestside Records to set up a shoot with the rapper. However, the label told him that Jay wouldn’t be available for promotion. Believing that Jay was going to be a superstar, Armen persisted, and finally the label made him a deal: he could shoot Jay for five minutes as he walked from his hotel in Paris to the waiting tour bus, which was headed to the city’s Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy arena. So, Armen waited outside the hotel for Jay in the shining sun, adjusting the contrast settings on his camera to achieve the dark images. As Jigga walked to the bus with Dame Dash he captured 7-10 shots, asking the rapper to point at the camera as he strolled past. The resulting images are simple but striking, with the rapper’s platinum Rolex Day-Date and diamond pinky ring alluding to his status. Earlier that year the three Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders had placed the biggest order of platinum jewelry that Jacob the Jeweler had ever received. Jay-Z, Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke dropped millions on platinum Rolexes, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pinky rings. Continued below. #JAYZ @armenexpo

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Jay-Z, photographed during his headlining performance at the All Points West Music & Arts Festival at Liberty State Park in Jersey City by Eric Thayer on July 31, 2009. The performance was the rapper’s United States multi-day festival debut. 2008 had seen him headline the Live Nation-produced Pemberton Festival in British Columbia; and European headlining performances at Glastonbury in England, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the Hove Festival in Norway and the O2 Wireless Festival in London. Just a week before the festival began Hov had been booked to replace previous opening night headliner the Beastie Boys. The group had to pull out of the gig after Adam “MCA” Yauch had been diagnosed with cancer. The Roc Nation co-founder of course would dedicate his 80-minute set to MCA. Jay opened his set with a cover of the Beasties’ 1986 classic “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”—changing the song’s “Beastie Boys at the Garden, cold kickin’ it live” line to “Jay-Z, All Points West, kickin’ it live”—as images of Brooklyn flashed across the big screens. Jay, a Brooklyn native like Yauch, then launched into his own borough anthem “Brooklyn Go Hard.” The show also featured the live debut of “Run This Town.” In a review for The Village Voice, Zach Baron wrote that the performance was one where for him, and the 75,000 others in attendance,“you realize for the one-thousandth time that Jay is one of a handful of artists with a catalogue so deep and formidable that he’s got a song for pretty much possible statement he might need to make.” #JAYZ

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Jay-Z, photographed shadow-boxing on the rooftop of Milk Studios in Chelsea, New York City for the November issue of British GQ by Simon Emmett in 2005. At this moment Hov was launching himself into a rendition of Eric B. and Rakim’s 1987 classic track “Paid In Full,” and would soon dance away from the camera, arms aloft in Rocky-fashion, sensing himself as being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the rooftops. He soon told the interviewer, “You caught me on a good day. Usually, I don’t talk so much.” In the corresponding issue Hov was crowned the magazine’s “International Man of the Year.” Accordingly, the Def Jam Recordings President and CEO took the time to unpack why he felt his music resonated with a worldwide audience: “It’s a number of things. I try to make music with emotion and integrity—and authenticity. You can feel when something’s authentic, and you can feel when it’s not. You know when someone’s trying to make the club record, or trying to make the girl record, or trying to make the thug record. It’s none of that. It’s just my emotions. And sometimes they’re vulnerable, like in ‘Song Cry’ for example. Some people are attracted to vulnerability. From my very first album, I’ve been vulnerable. I’ve always given parts of me, parts of my life—good, bad, ugly. I’ve never put up this image as a super-thug. Also, some people just like the music. I’ll make a song with Rick Rubin, a song with Beyoncé, a song with Lenny Kravitz. I just believe in making good music. I’m not trying to section myself off into just making hardcore rap music.” During the shoot Jay previewed a new verse he was constructing that would—a year later—have its official release as a guest feature on previous arch-rival Nas’ “Black Republican.” He never wrote the verse down, but instead held and edited it inside his memory for months. “I should be [a Republican], I’m in that tax bracket,” he told the shoot crew as he recited his thoughts, “[but there’s] too much thug in me.” The previous year he had voted for John Kerry and the Democratic Party, who had lost the election to George W. Bush and the Republicans. Continued below. #JAYZ @britishgq @simonemmettstudio

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JAY-Z and DJ Livia Borjas, photographed after meeting at Diddy’s $40 million mansion in Holmby Hills in Los Angeles on June 5. They were there for D'Lila and Jessie Combs' graduation party. Hov is wearing a Fear of God x 4:44 cap, a Planes white tee, a pair of Fear of God x JungleGurl floral shorts, and a pair of PUMA heritage crew socks and Basket sneakers. In her posting of this photo, the young DJ sensation recalled a time growing up in Chicago when her family were homeless and living in their vehicle. The youngest of six siblings, Livia remembers looking up at the stars one day and recalling Hov once saying that “the genius thing we did was we didn’t give up.” Years later she is now a booked and busy hip-hop DJ, spinning for numerous celebrities at their private parties and appearing on The Ellen Show. #JAYZ @iamdjlivia

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Jay-Z and his business partner Steve Stoute, photographed as they left the Harry Cipriani restaurant, located in the Sherry-Netherland hotel in the Upper East Side Historic District on January 10, 2008. At that point the Venetian restaurant had been a favorite of the rapper for 10 years, and he is a big fan of their Bellini cocktail. That evening Hov would dine at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan with his soon-to-be wife Beyoncé. One month later, and just seven weeks after Jay announced that he would be resigning as President and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, the two announced the launch of their new boutique advertising agency Translation Advertising, which operates under Stoute’s 2004-launched Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging marketing firm. Together they jointly own a 51% majority stake of the company, and they both served as Chairmen upon launch. Before they partnered in the venture Stoute had helped Shawn connect with Reebok, General Motors and Hewlett-Packard (a deal he got over Robert Redford and Drew Barrymore). “Jay-Z is the CEO of authenticity,” proclaimed Stoute in a February 2010 feature on the rapper in Esquire. “Jay was saying no to things he didn’t believe in when he first started, when he had no money. He never changed himself.” Translation Advertising was created in partnership with the Interpublic Group of Companies, which is the third-largest advertising company in the United States. The vision of Translation is to assist companies in reaching out to young, multicultural consumers in an appropriate manner. While the purchasing power of these consumers was an estimated $2 trillion, many companies had yet to find a way to connect with the group’s interests and wants. So in stepped in Jay and Steve, who felt that with their intimate knowledge of the culture they could help companies communicate on a more genuine level. Continued below. #JAYZ @stevestoute @wearetranslation

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Jay-Z and Alex Rodriguez, photographed during the New York Yankees World Series victory parade in New York City on November 6, 2009. After the parade Jay brought his close friend A-Rod, longtime business partner “OG Juan” Perez and his future Roc Nation Sports client CC Sabathia to sit with him courtside as the New York Knicks played the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Madison Square Garden. The group then celebrated the World Series victory at Nello in the Upper East Side (Hov's favorite Italian restaurant at the time), then partied the night away with bottles of Armand de Brignac champagne at The 40/40 Club. On November 4 Rodriguez had helped lead the New York Yankees to an astounding 27th World Series title. The victory parade was held two days later, and Jay-Z was invited by A-Rod to join him on his player’s float. After traveling down Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes, the parade arrived at City Hall for the victory speeches. After being invited onstage by Mayor Michael Bloomberg—who called the rapper “a great Yankee fan” and “a great New Yorker”—Hov took to the victory platform with Bridget Kelly to perform “Empire State of Mind.” While “Run This Town” was their official season anthem, the 5x Multi-Platinum New York celebration single had become the Yankees’ anthem during the playoffs and final series. In an interview before his performance at Game 2 of the World Series Hov told MTV News that, "Jeter plays ‘Empire State’ every time he’s at bat. A-Rod does ‘Already Home’ and ‘Reminder.’ [Robinson] Canó does ‘Run This Town.’ It has been a Jay-Z compilation at the stadium. It’s beautiful, incredible, beyond explanation … they're out there on the field throwing the Roc sign up—it’s fantastic." A-Rod would later gift Jay-Z his 2009 World Series ring to thank him for his friendship and support over the years. #JAYZ @arod @yankees