From the rough end of Brooklyn, Jay-Z's rise to become a multi-millionaire rap star and a powerful record company executive is the stuff of fairy tales. Attending the same school as The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, he was given a beatbox and his freestyle raps earned the nickname Jazzy. He amended this to Jay-Z in homage to his mentor Jaz-O and the J/Z subway lines intersecting near his home. Although he was featured on Big Daddy Kane's album Daddy's Home, he was unable to get a record deal. As a result he formed Roc-A-Fella Records with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs and released his first album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. His major breakthrough hit Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) turned him into a superstar triggering a series of crossover hits, high profile collaborations and the mass-selling album The Blueprint. Jay-Z announced his retirement following 2003's The Black Album and was named president of Def Jam Records. However, he returned with Kingdom Come in 2006 and went on to score his biggest hit with the New York anthem Empire State Of Mind, featuring Alicia Keys, in 2009 - which won two Grammies in 2011.




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