Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), known professionally as Jay-Z (stylized as JAY-Z), is an American rapper, songwriter, record executive, businessman, and record producer. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop artists in history, and often cited as one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Born and raised in New York City, Jay-Z first began his musical career after founding the record label Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, and subsequently released his debut studio album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. The album was released to widespread critical success, and solidified his standing in the music industry. He has gone on to release twelve additional albums, including the acclaimed albums The Blueprint (2001), The Black Album (2003), American Gangster (2007), and 4:44 (2017). Jay-Z has also released the full-length collaborative albums Watch the Throne (2011) with Kanye West and Everything Is Love (2018) with his wife Beyoncé, respectively.
On June 6, 2018, Jay-Z and Beyoncé kicked-off the On the Run II Tour in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Ten days later, at their final London performance, the pair unveiled Everything Is Love, their much-awaited joint studio album, credited under the name The Carters. The pair also released the video for the album's lead single, "Apeshit", on Beyoncé's official YouTube channel. The song won two awards from eight nominations at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
Jay-Z is one of the world's best-selling music artists, with over 50 million albums and 75 million singles sold worldwide. He has won a total of 23 Grammy Awards, the most by a rapper, and holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200, with 14. He has been ranked by Billboard and fellow music publication Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2017, he became the first rapper to be honored into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2018, received the commemorative "Salute to Industry Icons" award at the 60th Grammy Awards. In June 2019, Jay-Z officially became the first hip hop billionaire, making him among the wealthiest black Americans and the wealthiest American musician at the time. In December 2020, Jay-Z launched a line of cannabis products called "Monogram". In 2021, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first living solo rapper to be inducted.
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. known professionally as Lil Wayne, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record executive, and entrepreneur. He is regarded by many contemporaries as one of the most influential hip hop artists of his generation, and often cited as one of the greatest rappers of all time. His career began in 1995, at the age of 12, when he was signed by rapper Birdman, joining Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label. For many years, Lil Wayne was the flagship artist of Cash Money Records, before ending his association with the company in June 2018.
Lil Wayne has sold over 120 million records worldwide, including more than 20 million albums and 70 million digital tracks in the United States, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He has won five Grammy Awards, 11 BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and eight NAACP Image Awards. On September 27, 2012, he became the first male artist to surpass Elvis Presley with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100, with 109 songs. Lil Wayne also currently serves as the chief executive officer (CEO) of his own label, Young Money Entertainment.
In 2007, Carter stated that he would reunite with Hot Boys, with plans to release an album after B.G.'s solo album Too Hood to Be Hollywood was completed. Tha Carter III was originally scheduled to be released in 2007, but it was delayed after several recordings were leaked and distributed through mixtapes, including The Drought Is Over Pt. 2 and The Drought Is Over Pt. 4. Lil Wayne initially planned to release The Leak, a separate album with leaked songs and four additional tracks, on December 18, 2007, with Tha Carter III delayed to March 18, 2008. Instead, The Leak became an EP with five songs and was released digitally on December 25, 2007.
Tha Carter III was released on June 10, 2008, with first-week sales of over 1 million copies, the first to do so since 50 Cent's The Massacre (2005). The album's first single "Lollipop", featuring Static Major, became the Carter's most successful song at the time, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming his first top 10 single as a solo artist and his first number one on the chart. The third single "Got Money", featuring T-Pain, peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 100. Tha Carter III went on to win four Grammy Awards, including best rap album and best rap song, which he won for "Lollipop". On July 14, 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Tha Carter III two times platinum. In October 2008, Lil Wayne announced plans to MTV News to re-release the album with new tracks, including a duet with Ludacris and remixes of "A Milli".
While Carter was working on Tha Carter V, it was announced that his next album would be titled Funeral. On January 23, 2020, he revealed the album's release date and album artwork. Funeral was released on January 31, which debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard 200, with 139,000 album-equivalent units, becoming his fifth US number-one album.
The album received generally positive reviews from music critics. On February 2, 2020, he was revealed to be "The Robot" on the Season 3 premiere of The Masked Singer after the Super Bowl LIV. Carter featured on Lil Baby's track "Forever", a track from Baby's second studio album, My Turn, which was released on February 28, 2020. Carter also participates in the music video for the song, which was released on March 3, 2020. This marked the second collaboration for the two artists in 2020, with the first being on Carter's single "I Do It".
On April 24, 2020, Lil Wayne along with Dash Radio, launched his own radio show, Young Money Radio, on Apple Music. Wayne described the show as having "heavyweights calling in discussing sports, music, comedy, everything!". On July 3, Lil Wayne released his eleventh studio album, Free Weezy Album (2015) on streaming services to commemorate its five-year anniversary. The album charted at number 77 on the Billboard 200 the following week. On May 29, Wayne released the deluxe edition of Funeral featuring artists such as Doja Cat, Tory Lanez, Lil Uzi Vert, Benny The Butcher, Conway the Machine and Jessie Reyez. On August 28, Wayne released another old project, his 2009 mixtape No Ceilings, for commercial release. He also celebrated the release by collaborating with ASAP Ferg on the song "No Ceilings". Wayne was featured on YoungBoy Never Broke Again's album Top on the track "My Window", released on September 11. His verse received praise from critics. On September 25, he released the deluxe edition of his twelfth album Tha Carter V, to celebrate the album's two-year anniversary; it consists of songs that did not make the cut on the original album. On November 27, 2020, Lil Wayne released the mixtape No Ceilings 3, while announcing the album I Am Not a Human Being III for 2021. He is also currently working on Tha Carter VI.
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