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Jay-Z (aka the Jigga, born Shawn Carter December 4, 1970) is an American rapper, originally from Brooklyn, New York. He was raised by a single mother and soon began hustling on the streets of New York. After several unsuccessful attempts to launch a career (with Jaz-O, and then as part of a group called Original Flavor), Jay-Z co-founded Roc-a-Fella Records with Damon Dash, releasing his debut album Reasonable Doubt, to considerable acclaim within the rap community, though it did not achieve widespread success. It included four charting singles, "Ain't No Nigga" (with Foxy Brown), "Can't Knock the Hustle" (with Mary J. Blige), "Dead Presidents" and "Feelin' It".

In 1997, Jay-Z's follow-up, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, peaked at #3 and helped establish his career and mainstream success. In spite of the success, Jay-Z's image was tarnished by a perceived pandering to mainstream sales, and a watering down of his sound. The next year, Jay-Z released Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life, continued this evolution towards a pop-oriented market. This included several huge singles, including "Can I Get A...", "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)", "Jigga What?", "It's Alright" and "Money Ain't a Thang".

In 1999, Jay-Z released Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter, which was another big hit in spite of continued criticism for his pop-oriented sound, and a large roster of collaborators that many felt crowded out Jay-Z himself. His next album, Dynasty Roc la Familia, was originally intended as a collaboration album with many guests from Roc-a-Fella's roster, including Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil, as well as Scarface, Just Blaze, R. Kelly, Kayne West, The Neptunes and Snoop Dogg.

2001's The Blueprint was another huge hit for Jay-Z, and included tracks insulting Prodigy (Mobb Deep) and Nas. The latter responded with his own track, and the pair's rivalry escalated into one of the most famous rap rivalries since the East Coast/West Coast feud of the mid-1990s. The Blueprint featured only one collaboration, with Eminem on "Renegade".

This was followed by an Unplugged album, and collaborating with R. Kelly on Best of Both Worlds. Jay-Z returned in 2002 with The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse, a sprawling double-album.

In 2003, he is now touring with: 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Sean Paul while finishing work on his final album, The Black Album.