By Rocky Williform Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Rocky Williform is editor-in-chief & publisher of HipHopBlog.com. A serial entrepreneur and one-time New York investment banker, he also co-founded StreetCred with rapper and actor T.I.
Artist, mogul and icon, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter has been hip hop's alpha male for the better part of a decade, and he continues to be the industry's ultimate taste-maker, power player and trendsetter. On December 11, 2009, Jay-Z was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of the 2000–2009 decade by Billboard Magazine. His 2009 album, The Blueprint 3, was named the fourth best album of the year by Rolling Stone magazine and gave the rapper his eleventh number one album, which broke Elvis Presley's record.
"Empire State of Mind," the album's biggest single, peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for five consecutive weeks. It was the first number-one single of Jay-Z's fifteen year career. One of the few rappers, (if not the only rapper), to maintain his commercial viability into his forties, Jay has become an elder statesmen in hip hop; but one that has the platinum plaques that demand respect from young artists and industry personalities.
In anticipation for Blueprint 3's release, Jay appeared on talk show host Oprah Winfrey's daytime show, where he discussed his career and, later, took the media maven on a tour of his old Marcy Projects neighborhood. He also held the “Answer The Call” charity concert at Madison Square Garden on September 11th, 2009 to raise money for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. He and Alicia Keys, who was Jay's duet partner on "Empire State of Mind," performed the anthemic song at the New York Yankees' 2009 World Series Opener. He even performed at the 2009 Glastonbury festival in the UK, a venue that had been more known previously for featuring British alt-rock bands. His performances continued well into 2010, with Jay taking the stage at numerous notable festivals, including Bonnaroo and Coachella.
Jay-Z, along with actor/rapper Will Smith, were among the investors in the successful Broadway play "Fela!," which chronicled the life and career of Nigerian singer/activist Fela Kuti. As a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, Jay-Z was also a major player in the 2010 NBA free agent season. Jay, along with Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, were active in the bidding war for NBA superstar LeBron James, though the MVP would ultimately sign with the Miami Heat. His Roc Nation label has only gotten stronger, with signees like Wale, who released his hit album Attention Deficit in late 2009, and J. Cole--who has become one of the most buzzed about up-and-comers in hip hop. Jay has topped the Forbes "Hip Hop Cash Kings" list in both 2009 and 2010.
Jay-Z's philanthropic efforts have continued throughout his career. On January 23, 2010, he released "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)" with Rihanna and U2's Bono and The Edge. Nike donated limited edition Jay-Z Air Force Ones to the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. The five unique pairs raised funds to provide financial assistance to young, less-fortunate students that have been accepted into accredited institutions of higher learning. Jay-Z also performed at a charitable black ball for the Keep a Child Alive, is celebrating its seventh year. The organization assists children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
In June 2010, Jay-Z and fellow rap superstar announced they would perform together in a pair of concerts in Detroit and New York. Dubbed "The Home & Home Tour," the first two concerts rapidly sold out, prompting the scheduling of an additional show at each venue. He also led all nominees at the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards.
In 2010, it was also announced that Jay-Z and Kanye West will be releasing a collaborative project called Watch the Throne. Jay-Z is also performing with popular British band Coldplay for a special New Year's Eve event and is performing with U2 on the Australian and New Zealand leg of their world tour.