Do you know what today is? It's Monday yes, but it's also the birthday of the only man in the world who could be out of his mind enough to cheat on Beyoncé
. That's right, it's Jay-Z
HOV turns 47 today, and amongst the many birthday gifts he's likely to receive today, he should consider his biggest one the fact that Beyonce didn't kick his butt to the curb after his indiscretions. Regardless, it's a big day for one of music's biggest names, and it's incredible to look back on the journey that he's taken from the housing projects of Brooklyn to becoming one of the most successful men in America. So, to honor his big day, let's take a stroll down memory lane, and relive some of the biggest and best moments in the life and career of Jay-Z.
1. Collision Course
Jay-Z was already a well-established artist by the time I first heard him, so it's not like nobody had ever heard his name before his collaborative split with Linkin Park on
back in 2004. However, it was my first introduction to him, and I'll never forget how much I dug hearing "Numb/Encore" for the first time. It's a testament to just how talented and driven HOV is, blurring and crossing genre lines with ease to create one of the best rap-rock mixes in history. In a touching moment, Jay-Z performed "Numb/Encore" live (a very rare occurrence) after Chester Bennington's death, telling the audience to "please make some noise so he can hear you all the way in heaven tonight".
2. Reestablishing the Brooklyn Nets
As a native New Jerseyan, this one stings a bit, but you still have to give HOV cred for it. While he wasn't even close to being the majority shareholder of the New Jersey Nets, he was the public face of the campaign to move them to Brooklyn. He was also heavily involved with everything from designing the logo and colors, to setting up security at the Barclays Center. Even though he sold his stake in the team a few years back, there's still plenty of love between him and the team, as evidenced by the dope birthday cake they hooked him up with this year.
3. Relationship with Beyoncé
It only seems right that the only person to grab Queen B's heart is a king. In 2002, the duo collaborated on several tracks, and worked again together in 2006. They've always kept details about their relationship pretty private, until opening up in 2008 about being together, when they finally tied the knot. Since then they've been one of the world's biggest and most adorable power couples. Here's a fun fact about their family too: when daughter Blue Ivy was only two days old, Jay-Z recorded her cries, which later appeared on the track "B.I.C.". Since Blue was officially listed as a songwriter, she is the youngest person to ever appear on the Billboard chart.
4. The cutest subway ride ever
While closing out a week-long stint at Barclays, Jay-Z remained ever true to his roots by opting to take the subway to the venue instead of going by limo or helicopter or teleportation or whatever it is that rich people use to travel. While on the train car, mobbed by fans, security, and paparazzi, HOV took a seat next to a delightful old woman, who wasn't familiar with the superstar, but was pleased to chat him up. The two introduced themselves, talked a bit about their backgrounds, and enjoyed each other's company despite the chaos surrounding them. It's a neat affirmation to see that the superstars we so often place on a pedestal are people too.
5. "Empire State of Mind"
Without a doubt, this was the anthem of 2009/2010. It's Jay at his peak, Alicia Keys' hook is bombastic, and the whole track just absolutely smacks. You don't even have to be from the city or tri-state area to play this jam and just feel like you could accomplish anything.
6. Always giving back
One of the best things about HOV is that he's always stuck to his roots. No matter how big he's gotten, he's never gotten too big for his britches. He donated one million dollars to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund, set up a fund for Sean Bell's children, bailed Black Lives Matter members out of jail, and has set up countless scholarship and counseling opportunities for underprivileged youths through the Shawn Carter Foundation.
7. That one time with Nardwuar
In my opinion, one of the biggest honors that could be bestowed upon a musician is an interview with Nardwuar. It's unfortunately not one of Nardwuar's best interviews, as it was scheduled super last minute (by Pharrell Williams incessantly calling Jay-Z's cell). But it's still an incredible moment see two masters of their crafts sharing a moment together.