Happy Birthday, Jay Z!
When discussing the Top 5 rappers of all time, arguably, you must always include Jay Z. Hov, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, turns 46 years old today (Dec. 4).
Jay Z is the greatest because he represents the epitome for what hip-hop can be as an art form and in terms of commercial success. His braggadocio lyrics, no matter how ludicrous ("I am a hustler baby, I sell water to a well"), infects the most meek of hip-hop listeners. His social critiques ranges from biting ("Say Hello") to genuinely emotional ("Momma Loves Me"). The Brooklyn, N.Y. native does all of this through irreplaceable flows, hitmaking abilities and a litany of producers (Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Just Blaze and Timbaland, among many others) that have blessed him with some incredible beats to rhyme over.
His recent struggles with TIDAL don't take away from what he's already accomplished. Jay's discography includes several classic albums, including Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint and The Black Album.
Jay Z's body of work is impressive enough to nearly overshadow his remarkable business acumen. You can't look over the fact that at a net worth of $450 million, the veteran rhyme-slinger is one of the richest men in hip-hop.
After escaping the violence and poverty that plagued the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jay Z represents the American Dream. "Yeah, I'm out that Brooklyn, now I'm down in Tribeca / Right next to DeNiro, but I’ll be hood forever," he raps on "Empire State of Mind."
In honor of Hov's birthday, and his love for the numeral "4," we listed four of our favorite Jay Z videos below.