A To Jay Z: Everything You Need To Know About Beyoncé's Husband

Photo: REX USA/Everett Collection; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
As Gloria Carter tells us on track two of Jay-Z’s 2003 would-be swan song The Black Album, "Shawn Carter was born on December 4, weighing in at 10 pounds, 8 ounces." She doesn’t mention the year, but it was 1969, and that makes today the rapper and entrepreneur's 45th birthday. To mark this occasion, we're cruising through the alphabet, highlighting Hova's life and times one letter at a time. It's a crash course in this bling-rocking, Beyoncé-marrying, Blue Ivy-having Brooklynite's meteoric rise from crack slinger to world conqueror. Pop a cork and celebrate with this ultimate American success story of the last half-century.
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Photo: REX USA/Everett Collection.
A is for American Gangster, Jay’s ace 2007 concept album inspired by the film of the same name.
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Photo: REX USA/Beretta/Sims/Rex.
B is for Beyoncé, this big-pimpin’ Brooklyn businessman’s beautiful wife and the mother of his daughter, Blue Ivy.
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Photo: REX USA/Amy Harris/Rex.
C is for crack, the cocaine variant Mr. Carter sold on the city streets before moving millions of CDs.
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Photo: REX USA/MediaPunch Inc.
D is for Def Jam, where Jay worked as CEO and president for three years before leaving the label and buying out his contract for $5 million.
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Photo: REX USA/David Fisher/Rex.
E is for “Empire State of Mind,” Jay’s first (and thus far only) solo No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
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Photo: REX USA/MediaPunch Inc.
F is for Fade to Black, the '04 film featuring footage of what was to have been the rapper’s final show, a hits-packed set at MSG.
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Photo: REX USA/Danny Payne/Rex.
G is for the 19 Grammy Awards the rapper has grabbed over the years.
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Photo: REX USA/David Fisher.
H is for Hova, short for Jehovah, one of the many nicknames this "God MC" has used to confuse your parents.
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Photo: REX USA/MediaPunch Inc.
I is for "In My Lifetime," Jay’s introduction to the world, a single issued by Payday Records in '93 and backed with "I Can’t Get Wid Dat."
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Photo: REX USA/Brian J. Ritchie.
J is for Jaz-O, aka Jonathan Burks, the rapper and producer who served as Jay Z’s mentor and inspired his nom de hip-hop.
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Photo: REX USA/Erik Pendzich.
K is for Kim Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West, Jay's longtime collaborator and sometime rival.
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Photo: REX USA/John Chapple.
L is for Linkin Park, the Cali nu-metal crew Jay lucratively teamed with for the 2004 EP Collision Course.
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Photo: REX USA/Brian Rasic/Rex.
M is for Marcy Houses, the housing projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where this self-made mogul was raised.
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Photo: REX USA/Rex.
N is for the Nets, the NBA franchise Jay once owned a piece of and helped move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
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Photo: REX USA/Rex.
O is for Obama, who's been outspoken about digging Jay's music since before he landed in the White House.
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Photo: REX USA/Erik Pendzich.
P is for Paper Soldiers, a pretty forgettable 2002 comedy produced by Roc-A-Fella Films and featuring a cameo from Jay.
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Photo: REX USA/MediaPunch Inc.
Q is for Q-Tip, the Queens rapper and producer whose quality collabos with Jay include the 2001 single "Girls, Girls, Girls" and two co-producer credits on Watch the Throne.
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Photo: REX USA/Picture Perfect.
R is for Roc-A-Fella Records, the label he co-founded and used as a springboard for Rocawear, Roc Nation, and eventually Roc Nation Sports.
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Photo: REX USA/Greg Allen.
S is for Samsung, which distributed Jay's sorta-well received 2013 studio set Magna Carta Holy Grail via a special app.
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Photo: REX USA/Amy Harris/Rex.
T is for The Blueprint 3, which topped the Billboard 200 in 2009 and spelled triumph for Jay over the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, with whom he'd been tied on the list of artists with the most No. 1 albums.
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Photo: Courtesy of Def Jam Recordings.
U is for "Umbrella," the ubiquitous Rihanna hit Jay rhymed on in 2007.
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Photo: REX USA/Erik C. Pendzich.
V is for Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, which became Jay’s first chart-topping album in 1998.
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Photo: Roc-A-Fella.
W is for Watch the Throne, Jay's wildly successful 2011 collaborative album with Kanye West.
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Photo: REX USA/Music Pics/Rex.
X is for "XXXO," the excellent M.I.A. single from 2010 that spawned numerous remixes, including one featuring Jay Z.
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Photo: REX USA/Brian J. Ritchie/Hotsauce/Rex.
Y is for "Yesterday," the yearning Beatles classic Paul McCartney mashed up with "Numb/Encore" in a 2006 Grammy performance with Jay and Linkin Park.
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Photo: REX USA/Tom Watkins/Rex.
Z is for ZZ Top, whose zippy 1973 single "La Grange" mixes surprisingly well with Jay’s "99 Problems."
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