Oct 05 2017

JAY-Z Set to Perform His 4:44 Tour on November 9 at the Smoothie King Center

By: Emil Flemmon

"We can change people through conversation, not through censorship.” –JAY-Z


We’re often taught by spiritual leaders from words of the “Good Book” that we should always speak things into existence. It might be safe to say that Sean Carter, better known as JAY-Z, definitely has fulfilled that. His “conversations” with fans through his music have been igniting thought-provoking concepts since his debut album Reasonable Doubt.

From the Marcy Projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York, to being listed as number two on Forbes’s “The Richest in Hip Hop” list of 2017, and now a father three times over— it looks like JAY-Z has one plentiful resume. In the eyes of fans and spectators, he just might have it all.

Rolling Stone listed JAY-Z as “one of the greatest rappers alive,” and whether you agree with that or not, you’d have to give him credit for his work ethic, which happens to parallel that of his superstar wife, Beyoncé Knowles. 

His musicality has somehow managed to create hits using R&B classics from the 80s, Broadway gem tunes, and features that have delivered some one-liners repeated generationally. That success has generated 11 number one-charting albums. 

Depending on how it’s perceived, JAY-Z’s life may be considered the “American dream” or some version of it. His humble beginnings included being abandoned by his father while still a young child, shooting his own brother in the shoulder for allegedly stealing jewelry in 1982, and selling crack on the streets of New York. 

Those circumstances have given way to poetic narratives in his music and have translated into a personal design of success for the rapper. East Coast rapper Jaz-O met JAY-Z during his time of drug dealing. That meeting eventually led JAY-Z to record songs in 1989 titled “The Originators” and “Hawaiian Sophie.”

Not to be confused with Jaz-O, JAY-Z claims his rap moniker originated from his childhood nickname, “Jazzy.” JAY-Z would soon encounter who he deemed his mentor, Big Daddy Kane. A young JAY-Z can be heard on the single “Cut and Prove,” which came out in 1994.

In 1996, JAY-Z and longtime neighborhood friends Kareem Burke and Damon Dash formed Roc-A-Fella Records. That label gave birth to Jay’s Reasonable Doubt album, which is his lowest-charting album to date. The album chronicled his life as a drug dealer and is considered a staple in the hip hop community for its raw revelations, despite its unpretentious success in sales.

According to a backstory, JAY-Z wanted to reward Jaz-O for his helpful maneuvers by signing him to Roc-A-Fella, but Jaz allegedly found CEO Dash to be untrustworthy for business. This would later be one of the factors leading to the dissolution of JAY-Z’s and Dash’s friendship. In the coming years, Dash would speak openly that Roc-A-Fella fell apart, partly, due to JAY-Z’s departure. That departure clearly led Jay to “greener pastures” that solidified him as a bona fide rap mogul. 

After Reasonable Doubt came the 1997 release of In My Lifetime, Vol.1. This would create a musical union between fellow mogul and Bad Boy producer P. Diddy and the late Notorious B.I.G. It stood on the single “I Know What Girls Like.” The platinum album did help to raise JAY-Z’s profile and landed him at number three on Billboard

Jay-Z Set to Perform His 4:44 Tour on November 9 at the Smoothie King Center

It wasn’t until 1998 that Jay would garner his first U.S. number-one album: Vol.2…Hard Knock Life. With the infectious single, “Hard Knock Life” from the Broadway musical Annie, Jay-Z not only had his first hit on his hands, but the album gave him commercial success. Did we mention the album went five times platinum in the U.S.? It surely did!

Right around this time, rumors began to swirl that JAY-Z was possibly courting Knowles of the then-active group Destiny’s Child. Those rumors would eventually see the duo make magic musically, including their 2002 collaboration of “Bonnie & Clyde.” Other hits would follow in the years to come on the couple’s future solo and joint tours. 

Despite his commercial success, Jay would once again have to confront law enforcement over the alleged stabbing of music producer Lance Rivera at the Kit Kat Club in Manhattan in 1999. He pled guilty to the stabbing and was sentenced to three years’ probation. That same year, he dropped Vol 3…Life and Times of S. Carter. It featured production from the likes of Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Irv Gotti, and more. “Big Pimpin’,” featuring UGK, became a summer smash on urban and pop airwaves all over. 

Next on JAY-Z’s solo discography would be 2000’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, then 2001’s The Blueprint, which continued his commercial success with both debuting at number one. His first collaborative album with R. Kelly, The Best of Both Worlds, would later be released before his next solo effort, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse; both albums were released in 2002. Jay’s next six albums, including 4:44, would all debut at number one. 

His 4:44 Tour will make a stop in New Orleans on November 9 at the Smoothie King Center beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster and a host of other ticket venues. His promotion of his 13th studio album is allegedly a response to Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed album Lemonade.  

With his musical persona on display for the world to see, including dealing with momentary setbacks, handling business affairs, and being a husband and father, JAY-Z still carries himself with an upgraded level of class that has ascended with age. Beyoncé said it best on the 2006 release of “Upgrade U,” which featured Jay, “I hear you be the block, but I'm the lights that keep the streets on.” JAY-Z has proven to not only be “the block,” but to have staying power to keep the lights on in the hip hop community. 

JAY-Z plays the Smoothie King Center on Thursday, November 9, at 8 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, go to livenation.com

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