Everyone knows Shawn “Jay Z” Carter is smart, talented, and wildly effective, his Roc Nation empire continually expanding: the brand-new sports agency, a fragrance launch this month, a luxury-items partnership through Barneys. What’s fascinating is the means a drug dealer turned rapper turned mogul and also household male came to be the social pressure he is today—by claiming his previous, and all it taught him. With unprecedented accessibility, Lisa Robinboy gets Jay talking around the rumors and the reality.

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Everyone’s supposed to stay in their lines and also be neat. You’re a rapper. You’re intended to rap, bring a boom box, wear chains, and goto the club—that’s all you perform. What are you doing collecting art? Whatare you talking about? Wait a minute, you’re acquiring out of the zone.People hate when civilization cross lines. —Jay Z

On June 18, the 40/40 Club, on West 25th Street, New York City, was jammed through basketball fans tbelow to see the Miami Heat versus the San Antonio Spurs in Video Game Six of the N.B.A. finals. Downstairs, the sports bar was noisy with paying customers. Upstairs in his owner’s suite, Jay Z leaned earlier on one of the white leather sofas that line the large room. The noise in this room came from the game on two huge flatscreen TVs and the loud camaraderie of Jay’s guests—many of whom are his closest friends, human being who’ve remained in his inner circle for years. Among them: Juan Perez, the president of the freshly formed Roc Nation Sports; William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, a consultant to CAA Sports, which has freshly partnered with Roc Nation Sports; Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith, a frifinish of Jay’s for 25 years and head of A&R for Roc Nation Records; and his longtime trusted publicist, Jana Fleishmale. Jay wore a white T-shirt, black hoodie, jeans, and striped socks from the Stance sock firm (he’s an investor). His white sneakers were in front of him on the floor.

When you accomplish Jay Z for the first time, or even the first few times, or obtain a rare, perfunctory intersee, he is a thoughtful, guarded, reticent guy. Not aloof—simply cool. His friend the producer Rick Rubin once described Jay to me as “the coolest guy in the room.” Any room. Everyone knows he’s really smart, really talented, really wealthy, and also wildly successful. But in his private suite, he’s the Jay Z that only his friends and household acquire to see: extroverted, curious, gregarious, hilarious, and downright chatty. He laughs a lot—his tradenote short, staccato laugh. And there’s a lot to laugh around when you’re through this team. These are guys who came up together from the streets; the language was raw. Some in the room were rooting for the Spurs, or, fairly, against the Heat. At initially, when Jay’s pal LeBron James was having actually a mediocre game, Knicks fan Juan Perez yelled profane and hysterically funny insults at the TV. Various human being quit by to say hello: the singer Ne-Yo, Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker—people pay respects to Jay not unprefer they did to Don Corleone in The Godfather. The 40/40—a basesphere term that implies acquiring 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one season—is Jay’s home ameans from residence. Beyoncé, his wife of five years, verified up after a recording session and also sat down alongside her husband also. She wore shorts, a white silk sleevemuch less optimal, and also Tabitha Simmons striped sneakers; her long hair was tied back via a scarf. With no makeup on, she appeared approximately two decades old. Juan Perez and I tried to define to Beyoncé just how, as Knicks fans, we hate the Heat. And the Celtics. It’s the legislation. A waitress took drink and also food orders: spicy shrimp, guacamole, French fries, sliders. By the 3rd quarter, with the Spurs ahead by 10 points and also looking like they’d win the championship, Jay shelp, “This is over.” A few minutes later on, LeBron’s headband accidentally fell off, Miami’s Ray Allen hit a three-tip to tie the score, and the game got in overtime. The room turned also even more raucous. Juan Perez was apoplectic. Jay was rooting for the Heat, who won the game by 3 points, which supposed the finals would go to a Game Salso. Which intended one more night in the 40/40.

Two nights later on, Video Game Salso, the exact same suite, even more friends. On hand were Jay’s ideal friend, Emory Jones, who’s a companion in Jay’s apparel company; Chaka Pilgrim, head of creative visionary marketing for the Roc Nation conglomerate; John Meneilly, from Jay’s administration team; and also previous Def Jam Records executive Kevin Liles. More food, more drinks, even more yelling at the screens. D’Ussé, Jay’s preferred brand of Cognac, was offered. Cash-money bets were questioned. Cigars were debated. Jay showed me the “Shawn Carter” watch he designed for Hublot, which will cost somewhere about $20,000 and will certainly be out later this year. Jay shouted at the display screens, calling various players assorted nicknames: The Heat’s Shane Battier ended up being “Bang Bang” Battier! One of the Spurs guards—who was having actually a destructive series—was “Apple Turnover!” The actor Jamie Foxx stopped by. (Later, Foxx told me that once his father gained out of “mandatory college” the first concert he took his father to view was Jay Z’s in Miami. “It was after 9/11,” Foxx said, “and also the city had actually just stopped still. But Jay simply brought everyone together. My father cried.”)

In music, we love the idea of the screwed-up, shooting-up, fucked-up artist. The one bleeding in the garret having actually reduced his own ear off. Jay Z is a brand-new type of 21st-century artist wbelow the canvas is not just the 12 notes, the wicked beats, and also a rhyming dictionary in his head. It’s commerce, it’s politics, the fabric of the genuine as well as the imagined life. —U2 lead singer Bono

On July 2, we were on the height floor in the exclusive room of the Spotted Pig restaurant, in New York’s West Village. Alengthy through chef Mario Batali, Bono, and also others, Jay is an investor in the well-known hangout. He wore a khaki Balmajor shirt through an embroidered crest on the pocket. He was checking 2 phones and also told me about the Samsung app that 2 days later on would deliver his brand-new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for cost-free to one million owners of Samsung Galaxy phones. Jana Fleishguy and also Chaka Pilgrim and also the rapper J. Cole—who’s controlled by Roc Nation and also whose album Born Sinner was No. 1 that week—were tright here also. We talked around Kanye West and rap lyrics and Ice-T’s documentary, The Art of Rap. We questioned just how in 2008, as soon as Jay was set to percreate at England’s Glastonbury Festival, Oasis’s Noel Gallagher was publicly disdainful of having a “hip-hop” act on the bill, so Jay went onphase and also sang the Oasis hit “Wonderwall” to the delight of the crowd. Jay asked me many type of concerns about the music and also art scene in New York in the 1980s, once Debbie Harry and also rap pioneer Fab Five Freddy and Madonna and also painter Jean-Michel Basquiat all hung out together. (I made a decision not to dispel his romantic myths.) The conversation was anywhere the place: he sassist he never before went swimming as a child, but now he’s learned exactly how to swim so he have the right to teach his daughter—18-month-old Blue Ivy—whose image popped up on his phone. He said he’s been discovering to play tennis with a trainer. We debated how his indigenous Brooklyn has adjusted. He told me around Frankie’s restaurant and a pizza spot he won’t name that he says he goes to eexceptionally Sunday. I asked Jay exactly how he feels around the artisanal pickle and also mayonnaise stores that populate the boturbulent, and also he laughed, recalling a recent walk he took via someone who lauded the merits of an ice-cream store on a street that Jay said was a dangerous one in his youth. Several bottles of a very great wine were consumed, and dinner orders were placed: radish salads and hamburgers. Jay had fish. I told him that the other sports agents seem terrified currently that he’s acquiring right into that organization. “They need to be,” he said, then included, “I really want to assist these athletes. I perform it anyway; they all concerned the 40/40; we’ve been giving them advice for years. Do you understand exactly how many kind of athletes go damaged 3 years after they stop playing? I desire to aid them hold on to their money. I mean, I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer.”


Today, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, 43, is a boy, brvarious other, husband also, father, entrepreneur, mogul, sports agent, rapper, performer, movie producer, writer, nightclub owner, Broadmeans producer, festival organizer, watch designer, soundtrack and also video-game executive producer, and art collector. This fall, he debuts a fragrance (Gold) and also a cigar (Comador), and he’ll start a three-month, 49-city world tour. He will likewise partner via Barneys New York to sell luxury goods from the Shawn Carter Collection throughout the holiday seachild. (Twenty-five percent of the Barneys proceeds will advantage his foundation, which provides scholarships to students dealing with socio-economic hardships.) Since the release of his deyet album, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996, Jay Z has constructed a realm and also readjusted the society. He’s put out 18 albums, with sales of 75 million duplicates worldwide. He has actually collaborated via artists that include Kanye West, Eminem, Nas, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Justin Timberlake, and also Mary J. Blige—who states, “Jay is an impressive talent, and also among the smartest people I’ve met in the music service.” He was a part owner of the Nets basketsphere team and instrumental in bringing them to Brooklyn, gaining the Barclays arena constructed, and designing the Nets’ logo design and also the $600,000 “Vault” deluxe suites in the location. In 2007 he sold his Rocawear clothes firm for $204 million, and also in 2008 made a $150 million address Live Nation—which he told me he freshly re-upped.

His life was not always prefer this.

Shawn Carter flourished up in the Marcy Houses—Brooklyn jobs that are 4 and a fifty percent miles from wright here he presently resides in Tribeca. The Marcy tasks take up six blocks along Flushing and Nostrand Avenues in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Dozens of numbered brick structures make up the complicated, which, on a late-summer-afternoon visit, is practically eerily quiet. Bags of garbage are on the ground alongside the fences. An ambulance waits outside among the buildings. Regardless of the trees and the playgrounds within the fenced-in complicated, it is a bleak, sad location. A boy who shows up to be about eight years old rides a bicycle, a group of old woguys sit chatting on a bench, and some adolescents just hang out. There is a palpable sense of utter hopelessness; no one that stays here deserve to escape the reality that they live in government-subsidized public real estate. Forgain someone coming to be an iconic, worldwide superstar or a multi-millionaire—to even obtain out of right here at all takes somepoint extraplain, almost a miracle.

When he was prospering up tright here, Shawn preferred to spray water from fire hydrants, play basketsphere, ride bicycles. In 6th grade he had a crush on his teacher, who told him he was smart. He loved to review. At residence, he composed down rhymes, listened to—and imitated—Michael Jackchild, and watched Soul Train. His house was filled through music from his parents’ record collection; he claims it was the party house. When Shawn was 11, his father’s brvarious other was stabbed and also died; his father turned to drugs and left the household. Shawn ended up being withattracted and also, for a long time, wouldn’t enable himself to get cshed to anyone. As a teenager he began to deal drugs. When Jay and I talked at size about his youth, his life as a drug dealer, and also his rags-to-wealth story, I asked what acquired him out, what aided him survive. “Music,” he said.

At the finish of the day, there is an itch that he constantly will desire to scratch, and also that itch is at the heart and also center of hip-hop. I first heard “Picasso Baby” Magna Carta Holy Grail album> at 3:12 A.M., standing external of a 7-Elalso in Philadelphia. Some guy had his phone hooked as much as his automobile speakers and also 12 of us were frozen, like we were our grandparental fees staring at the radio listening to Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds. I’m beyond specific that this is why he still does it—discovering somewhere in this civilization someone is staring at the speakers in analytical mode.

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—Roots drummer Questlove

The Roc Nation offices occupy the entire top floor of a huge Manhattan office structure a few blocks from Madichild Square Garden in what provided to be the Garment District. It was July 19, the day of Jay’s Yankee Stadium “Legends of the Summer” show via co-billed Justin Timberlake, and also the office was abuzz. Jay and Beyoncé were in Jay’s glass-walled office, and Jay was holding his daughter. The walls of the workplaces are lined via art from Jay’s very own arsenal (consisting of numerous Basquiats) and also photos of Roc Nation artists, including Shakira, Rihanna, Santigold, Rita Ora, and also the Ting Tings. The workplaces also home the showroom of the Rocawear clothing line and also producer-musician Pharrell Williams’s Billionaire Boys Club apparel line, now a component of Rocawear. Several hours later on, backstage at Yankee Stadium in a huge hospitality suite, Jay’s guests contained model Jessica White and the Knicks’ Kenyon Martin, yet it was more friends and family than a bunch of celebrities. Jay’s mommy, Gloria Carter—that runs his Shawn Carter Foundation—was tright here, together with various other loved ones. On the area, Justin Timberlake’s V.I.P. guest platcreate had 14 human being seated on chairs watching the display, while Jay’s V.I.P. guest platform was jam-packed with more than 50 friends and no chairs. It was one of the hottest days of the summer—upwards of 95 degrees. Beyoncé was on the platdevelop, wearing shorts and a tank optimal, and also she tied her lengthy hair up. She told me her daughter was backphase, and she laughed once she shelp that her kid prefers Jay’s music to hers. Watching Jay onphase, I realized just how much pleasure he still takes in the actual act of rapping and performing—understandable, as he’s one of the incredibly ideal. He’s obtained a full command of phrasing, and his syncopated lines can frequently sound choose excellent scat singing. He has a dry feeling of humor; tbelow are so many funny lines in so many type of of his songs that they deserve to fly by if you don’t really pay attention. Occasionally he raps in a syntax that is so effortlessly advanced (“Do I, to you, look prefer a lame who … ”) that it evokes a songwriter choose Cole Porter. Jay famously provides up rhymes on the spot, in the recording studio, and also doesn’t compose them down. Everyone that has actually watched him carry out this likens it to a magic trick. “He sits in the back of the recording studio and also lis10s to the track over and also over again,” said Rick Rubin, who created Jay’s hit “99 Problems.” “He’s so quiet and also still during this procedure that it’s simple to forobtain he’s in the room. Then, after about 20 or 30 minutes, he jumps up and claims, ‘I acquired it,’ and also runs right into the vocal booth to catch the recording while it’s fresh. He does numerous performances and also each one is different. One deserve to liken it to a solo by a jazz artist wright here tright here is a particular melody, however each variation of it is phrased in a different way through various accents and high points.”

Jay states one of his nicknames—Hova—came about because of this procedure. People were constantly amazed that he didn’t write things down—they began saying it was unbelievable, choose Jehovah. J-Hova. It was a joke. When Kanye said it on a record, it stuck. The initial Jay Z nickname came about bereason kids supplied to call him “Jazzy” as soon as he began rapping in a circle in the Marcy tasks. (He likewise claims that the diamond authorize he renders via his hands was another joke that started in his office; he began doing it at concerts, and the following thing he kbrand-new, the whole crowd did it.)

Throughout a break in Jay’s collection, Beyoncé and also I went backstage. Blue Ivy, in the hallway with a nanny, reached her arms out for her mother to host her. The son has huge eyes and also is adorable—wearing a tiny cap-sleeved, scoop-necked white dress through a ruffle at the waist, orangey-red sneakers, and also a red print bow in her hair. In Jay’s dressing-room lounge, she sat on her mother’s lap and played via puzzles via some other children. This would certainly be, for anyone, a fairly normal household tableau, except that the father of the boy in this image was, at that exceptionally moment, singing “Young Forever” to a crowd of 60,000 human being and also dedicating the song to Trayvon Martin.

Later, Jay talked to me about the Trayvon Martin tragedy. “The point is, that was not a babsence son,” he sassist. “That’s someone’s son, duration. How they won that trial was they played on America’s are afraid of black civilization. Still. What if this male comes in your neighborhood? You desire him out of your area, right? They did a great job of taking the point of ‘This can be your child’ ameans and played on the fear that some babsence man can come in your neighborhood and also rob the area. We’re going backwards appropriate currently. Due to the fact that we should deal with it in a actual way. Not put a Band-Aid on it. Not put more police in the projects. If we don’t enhance the education process, it’s not going to occupational.”