Jay-Z's Magna Carter World Tour, which started in 2013 and keeps rolling through the arena circuit into 2014, is just the latest in the hip hop entrepreneur's string of success stories.
Brooklyn native Shawn Carter's 2013-14 tour came on the heels of the summer 2013 release of "Magna Carta Holy Grail," his 15th studio album and his 13th straight to top the Billboard 200 album chart.
Though his musical endeavors as an artist, label exec and producer provide the foundation for Jay-Z's empire, he's also a successful serial entrepreneur. He's made his mark in the fashion world with his Rocawear clothing line, and he's branched into the sports world -- first as a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, then as the owner of the Roc Nation sports and entertainment agency. As he rapped in one song, "I'm not a businessman / I'm a business, man."
Jay-Z's rise came from humble beginnings. He and his three siblings grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, and he was raised by his single mother after his father left when he was 11 years old. His early lyrics refer to a life rife with gun violence and drug dealing, and he's claimed that he turned to hip hop as a way out of poverty.
Carter began to get noticed as a rapper in 1989, when he joined an older performer and mentor named Jaz-O to record a song titled "The Originators," which landed them on an episode of Yo! MTV Raps. Around this time, Carter began to perform as Jay-Z out of respect for Jaz-O and as a nod to his childhood nickname "Jazzy."
After bouncing around in relative obscurity, Jay-Z and two friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, took things into their own hands by creating their own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, in 1996. Jay-Z's first album, "Reasonable Doubt," was released that June, and immediately established him as a star-in-the-making.
From there, it seemed Jay-Z could do no wrong. He's sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, amassed 17 Grammy Awards, and has become known as one of the greatest rappers ever. He married Beyonce Knowles in 2008, and Forbes has ranked the pair Hollywood's top-earning couple. Jay-Z's concerts regularly sell out, with fans scooping up tickets to see a true living legend who can command an audience with or without a huge stage production. In fact, his early Magna Carter shows were one of his most stripped-down productions, but nonetheless generated consistent raves from fans and critics alike.