Jay-Z was born December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. He and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter, after their father abandoned the family. According to his lyrics, Jay-Z, at the age of 12, shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry.
He attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn, along with future rapper AZ, until it was closed down. Later he attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Downtown Brooklyn, with fellow future rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, and Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, however, did not graduate.
Having been involved in selling crack cocaine, Jay-Z has said he had been shot at three times during this time in his life.
After his mother bought him a boom box for his birthday, began freestyling, writing lyrics, and followed the music of many artists. In his neighborhood, Carter was known as "Jazzy", a nickname that eventually developed into his showbiz/stage name, "Jay-Z".
He first became known to a wide audience by being featured on the posse cut "Show and Prove" on the 1994 Big Daddy Kane album Daddy's Home. In 1995, he released his first official rap single, called "In My Lifetime", for which he also released a music video.
In the same year, Jay-Z together with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs created Roc-A-Fella Records as their own independent label. In 1996, he released his debut album Reasonable Doubt and in 1997, he released his follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 which reportedly was made during one of the worst periods of his life.
After two more albums - Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life and Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter – Jay-Z allegedly stabbed record executive Lance "Un" Rivera at the release party for Q-Tip's album Amplified at the Kit Kat Klub. In Jenuary 2000, Jay-Z pleaded not guilty; he and his lawyers contended that they had witnesses and videotapes proving he had been nowhere near Rivera during the incident. Nevertheless, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and accepted a three year probation sentence.
In 2003, Jay-Z collaborated with R. Kelly and released a collaborative studio album, The Best of Both Worlds.
In 2004, Jay-Z collaborated with rock group Linkin Park, in which they released their collaborative remix EP Collision Course, which featured mashups of both artists' songs. In the same year, he was named president of Def Jam Records, which led to Jay-Z, Dash and Biggs selling their remaining interests in Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z taking control of both of the companies.
All in all, Jay-Z released 15 albums and worked with such musicians as Eminem, Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye West and many more.
In 2006, Jay-Z became involved in philanthropic activity and met with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The rapper pledged to use his upcoming world tour to raise awareness of and combat global water shortage.
In 2008, Jay-Z and American R&B singer Beyoncé got married. In 2002, they collaborated for their first mutual project, the song "03 Bonnie & Clyde". In 2011, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child and on January 7, 2012, she gave birth to their daughter, named Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
In 2010, Jay-Z published a memoir entitled Decoded. As an entrepreneur and investor, Jay-Z co-owns the 40/40 Club, and is the co-creator of the clothing line Rocawear.
In 2014, Forbes estimated Carter's net worth at nearly $520 million. He is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records, while receiving 19 Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous additional nominations. He is also ranked as one of the greatest rappers ever.