Jay-Z's kingdom comes to JPJ
For Charlottesville's hip-hop fans, life just got a little less hard knock. For the first time ever, a non-student promoter has booked the John Paul Jones Arena for a hip-hop show, and the christening will come from none other than the best-selling rapper of all-time, Jay-Z. Opening will be Atlanta MC T.I., who has sold 6.65 million albums of his own. The show will take place Saturday, October 25 at 8pm. Tickets go on sale this Friday, October 3 at noon. No word yet on how much cheese fans will have to spend to see the show.
Since making his debut in 1996, the man born as Shawn Carter but otherwise known as Jigga, Hova, the CEO of Hip Hop, or just plain Jay has sold more than 26 million copies of his albums in the United States alone–- more than Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Buffett, Nirvana, or Frank Sinatra. That's not counting the other 24 million records he's sold worldwide.
Jay-Z's beginnings in life may not have been auspicious (born into Brooklyn's Marcy projects, abandoned by his father, shot his brother at age 12, dropped out of high school) but his breakthrough into New York's rap scene certainly was. Having impressed in several rap battles throughout Gotham, Jay-Z received a rare blessing on his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt–- a cameo from rap superstar and middle school classmate The Notorious B.I.G. just months before he died of gunshot wounds. The appearance of the East Coast's biggest name in rap lent credibility to an otherwise unknown artist, and Reasonable Doubt broke into Billboard's Top 40.
The torch seemed fully passed, then, when in 1998 Jay-Z made the unusual choice to sample the original cast recording of the Broadway musical Annie and made his first Top 20 single "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)." On the success of that song, his album Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life sold over 5 million copies and reached the top spot on the Billboard albums chart.
Since then, every one of Jay-Z's seven subsequent albums has made it to #1, an almost unprecedented decade-long streak of success that's earned the respect of many outside the rap world. Since 1999, he's won seven Grammys. In 2003, he became the first rapper to ever sell out New York's Madison Square Garden, a concert captured on film in the documentary Fade to Black. At the 2004 Grammys, while wearing a John Lennon t-shirt, he performed alongside Paul McCartney in a re-working of his song "Encore" that included the Beatle singing a verse of "Yesterday." In 2005, GQ recognized Jay-Z as its International Man of the Year. This year, he became the first ever rapper to headline England's Glastonbury Festival in its 38-year history.
Jay-Z has also proven himself a superstar in the business world. In addition to having served as the president and CEO of Island/Def Jam Records for three years, he's launched the successful Roc-a-Wear clothing line, and he's part owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets. Having earned $82 million in fiscal year 2007, this year Forbes rated him as the world's seventh most powerful celebrity in its annual Celebrity 100 list. Still, he was behind his wife, R&B singer Beyonc©, who came in at #4.