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Jay-Z (aka the Jigga, b. Sean 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 Ryme[?] and Sean Paul[?].

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