Shawn Carter, known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper, record producer and entrepreneur. He is one of the most financially successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in America. He has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide, while receiving 17 Grammys for his musical work. Three of his albums, Reasonable Doubt (1996), The Blueprint (2001) and The Black Album (2003), are considered landmarks in the genre. As an artist, he holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with 13. As an entrepreneur and investor, Jay-Z is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings and the founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, Rocawear and Roc Nation Sports. He also co-owns the sports bar chain 40/40 Club and is a certified NBA and MLB sports agent. Jay-Z is married to American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles. He was born on this day in 1969, unless you believe he is immortal, or Illuminati.
Over the past four months, I have played my baby daughter Ramona a wide variety of music to see what she likes. Azure Ray’s “Don’t Leave My Mind” was an early comfort, as were some Simon & Garfunkel classics. But to the surprise of my wife and me, no song has been received with greater enthusiasm and joy than Jay-Z’s 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).” Ramona loves that song so much and breaks into a big smile each time. We’ve listened to it dozens, if not hundreds, of times at this point. The great bassline and high-pitched voices sampled from the Broadway musical Annie apparently elevate “Hard Knock Life” to perfect children’s song (well, aside from the lyrics).