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Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), known professionally as Jay-Z (stylized in all caps),[a] is an American rapper, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, and record executive. Considered among the best American rappers of all time, he is regarded as one of the world's most significant cultural icons and has been a global figure in popular culture for over two decades.
Born and raised in New York City, Jay-Z first began his musical career after founding the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, and subsequently released his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was released to widespread critical success, and solidified his standing in the music industry. He has gone onto release twelve additional albums, which have all attained generally positive critical reception and universal commercial success, with The Blueprint (2001) and The Black Album (2003) albums later being heralded as modern musical classics. He has also released the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) and Everything Is Love (2018) with Kanye West and wife Beyoncé, respectively.
Outside of his musical career, Jay-Z has also attained significant success and media attention for his career as a businessman. In 1999, he founded the clothing retailer Rocawear, and in 2003, he founded the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club. Both businesses have grown to become multi-million dollar corporations, and allowed Jay-Z to fund the start-up for the entertainment company Roc Nation, which was founded in 2008. In 2015, he acquired the tech company Aspiro, and took charge of their media streaming service Tidal, which has since become the world's third-largest online streaming company. His marriage to musician Beyoncé has also been a source of substantial media attention.
Jay-Z is among the most critically acclaimed musicians and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with over 125 million records sold worldwide. He has won a total of 22 Grammy Awards, the most by a rapper, and holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200, with 14. He has been ranked by Billboard and fellow music publication Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest artists of all time. In 2017, he became the first rapper to be honored into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2018, received the commemorative "Salute to Industry Icons" award at the 60th Grammy Awards.