Jay-Z is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. 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 thirteen Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous additional nominations. He is consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers of all-time. He was ranked so by MTV in their list of The Greatest MCs of All-Time in 2006.
Two of his albums, Reasonable Doubt (1996) and The Blueprint (2001) are considered landmarks in the genre with both of them being ranked in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. He is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation. As an artist, he holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with eleven. Jay-Z also has had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one as lead artist.
He married American R&B superstar Beyoncé Knowles on April 4, 2008. On December 11, 2009, Jay-Z was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of the 2000's by Billboard and ranking as the 5th top solo male artist and as the 4th top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent. He released 11 studio albums, 46 singles, and 5 collaborative albums.
Jay-Z began his career by performing on tracks by fellow rapper Jaz-O during the early 1990s. Under his own record label Roc-A-Fella Records co-founded with friends Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke, Jay-Z debuted in 1996 with Reasonable Doubt, which debuted at #23 on the Billboard 200 chart but gained classic status among fans. Its singles included "Ain't No Nigga", which featured Foxy Brown and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart, and "Can't Knock the Hustle", which featured Mary J. Blige and reached #7 on the rap chart.
His follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 reached #3 on the Billboard 200 with the help of popular producers Sean Combs and Teddy Riley. In 1998, Jay-Z released Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life, which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and included two singles that reached the top 20 spots of the Billboard Hot 100: "Can I Get A..." (featuring Amil and Ja Rule) and "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)". Vol. 2 was certified five times platinum in the US and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1999. Another successful chart-topping album, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter, followed in 1999, with hit single "Big Pimpin'" featuring UGK. Jay-Z's 2000 album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia was again #1 and included the hit single "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" and many guest performances by Roc-A-Fella artists.
Jay-Z's 2001 album The Blueprint, the first in a trilogy of albums under that title, became controversial for including lyrics attacking other New York City rappers like Nas and Prodigy. Still, The Blueprint included two top 20 singles "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Girls, Girls, Girls". The Blueprint2: The Gift & The Curse followed in 2002, with two singles reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100: "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" featuring Beyoncé Knowles and "Excuse Me Miss" featuring Pharrell Williams.
Jay-Z planned his 2003 album The Black Album to be his last album. The Black Album included the hits "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "99 Problems", went triple platinum, and inspired a bootleg by the DJ Danger Mouse titled The Grey Album that mashed up Jay-Z's album with The Beatles' The White Album. In 2004, the concert film Fade to Black was released. Jay-Z became president of Def Jam Recordings in 2005 and resumed his rap career in 2006 with Kingdom Come. That album reached #1 and went double platinum.The concept album American Gangster followed in 2007. In 2009, Jay-Z released a mixtape "Prelude to the Blueprint III" and then surpassed Elvis Presley as solo artist with the most albums to have had reached number 1 on the Billboard 200, after the actual release of his 11th studio album The Blueprint 3.
In 2013, Jay-Z released the album Magna Carta... Holy Grail.