Jay-Z, a titan of the music industry, has not only left an indelible mark on hip-hop but also reshaped the cultural and entrepreneurial landscape. Rising from humble beginnings, his lyrical prowess and storytelling abilities brought street narratives to mainstream consciousness, elevating rap from a genre to a global movement. Beyond his musical contributions, Jay-Z's influence extends into business, fashion, and social justice. He transformed himself from a rapper into a business mogul, employing strategic thinking and innovation to build an empire that spans music, fashion, and technology. His lyrics often touch on issues of identity, race, and systemic inequalities, making him a voice for social change and activism. Jay-Z's journey from the Brooklyn projects to international stardom is a testament to the power of resilience, ambition, and the ability to leverage artistic and intellectual talents for both personal success and societal impact.
Don't tell me what was said about me. Tell me why they were so comfortable to say it to you.
Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself.
Everybody look at you strange, say you changed. Like you work that hard to stay the same.
You not feeling me, fine. It costs you nothing, pay me no mind.
A wise man told me don't argue with fools. Cause people from a distance can't tell who is who.
Don't ever go with the flow. Be the flow.
I seen the worst of the worst. I deserve every blessing I receive I'm from the dirt.
You can pay for school, but you can't buy class
Everybody can tell you how to do it but they never done it
Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.
I look in the mirror, my only opponent.
I'm hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter.
The genius thing that we did was, we didn't give up.
Be true to yourself- and keep things simple. People complicate things
Niggas pray and pray on my downfall, But every time I hit the ground I bounce up like round ball
Only God can judge me so I'm gone, either love me or leave me alone.
Life is a gift, love opens it up.
Leave a mark they can't erase, neither space nor time.
I've never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I've always wanted to stay true to myself, and I've managed to do that. People have to accept that.
Remind your self. Nobody constructed like you, you style your self.
You learn more in failure than you ever do in success
Without the work, the magic won’t come.
Only he without sin can tell me if my means justify my ends.
Nine to five is how ya survive, I ain't trying to survive. I'm trying to live it to the limit and love it alive.
You can put a new shirt on your back, slide a fresh chain around your neck, and accumulate all the money and power in the world, but at the end of the day those are just layers. Money and power don't change you, they just further expose your true self.
You can't turn a bad girl good, but once a good girls' gone bad, she's gone forever.
I'd rather die enormous than live dormant.
May the best of your today's be the worst of your tomorrow's
Be fluid. Treat each project differently. Be water, man. The best style is no style. Because styles can be figured out. And when you have no style they can't figure you out.
You can want success all you want, but to get it, you can’t falter. You can’t slip. You can’t sleep. One eye open, for real, and forever.
I'm a mirror. If you're cool with me, I'm cool with you, and the exchange starts. What you see is what you reflect. If you don't like what you see, then you've done something. If I'm standoffish, that's because you are.
They say a midget standing on a giant's shoulders can see much further than the giant. So I got the whole rap world on my shoulders, they trying to see further than I am.
I will not lose, for even in defeat/There's a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me
No one's walking around here perfect. Everyone's gonna make mistakes. That's part of how you learn.
Life is for living, not living uptight, see ya somewhere up in the sky.
In trouble waters I had to learn how to float
Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly.
Men lie, women lie, numbers do not.
Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don't think it's given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I'm going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations.
We change people through conversation, not through censorship.
I'm not afraid of dying I'm afraid of not trying
Don't make decisions based on the fear.
New York has a thousand universes in it that don't always connect but we do all walk the same streets, hear the same sirens, ride the same subways, see the same headlines in the Post, read the same writings on the walls. That shared landscape gets inside of all of us and, in some small way, unites us, makes us think we know each other even when we don't.
I keep my enemies close/ I give 'em enough rope/ They put themselves in the air/ I just kick away the chair.
Everything evens up, you just wait, Even a garbage can gets a steak, You ain't even a garbage can, you have faith!
I ain't lookin' at you dudes -I'm lookin' past you.
just when i thought i had everything, i lost it all
I'm a hustler, baby; I sell water to a well.
I never ask for nothin' I don't demand of myself. Honesty, loyalty, friends and then wealth
My thing is related to who I am as a person. The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I'm feeling at the time, whatever direction I'm heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.
As kids we didn't complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it.
Difficult takes a day. Impossible takes a week. I do this in my sleep.
Jealousy’s a weak emotion.
Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.
The truth is that drug addicts have a disease. It only takes a short time in the streets to realize that out-of-control addiction is a medical problem, not a form of recreational or criminal behavior. And the more society treats drug addiction as a crime, the more money drug dealers will make "relieving" the suffering of the addicts.
I thought I would be more inspired to have all these new feelings to talk about, but I really just want to hang out with my daughter.
I'm far from being god, but I work god damn hard.
I believe you can speak things into existence.
It's always been most important for me to figure out "my space" rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself-- and that's essential for any artist, I think.
I use a lot of double meanings. I hide 'em like Easter eggs.
There's the gift, there's the spirit, and there's the work-all three have to come together. If one of those things is off, it can stop you from becoming who you were meant to be.
I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over.
Successful people have a bigger fear of failure than people who've never done anything because if you haven't been successful, then you don't know how it feels to lose it all.
Treat my first like my last and the last like my first and my thirst is the same as- when I came.
"Now success was like lust, she's good to the touch,
She's good for the moment, but she's never enough"
Rap has been a path between cultures in the best tradition of popular music.
No matter where you go, you are what you are playa.
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly We'll name him history
I'm hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That's what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that's from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.
I'm not saying I'm God. But as far as lyrics, I'm God MC.
I'm not concerned with noise because I'm playing the long game.
Your future is ahead of you. Imagine the notion of the past fifteen years of your life being a blip in your story.
If the beat is time, flow is what we do with that time, how we live through it. The beat is everywhere, but every life has to find its own flow.
The burden of poverty isn't just that you don't always have the things you need, it's the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you'd do anything to lift that burden.
You could name practically any problem in the hood and there'd be a rap song for you.
I love you so, But why I love you, I'll never know.
Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don't even have to like your music. If you're big enough, people are drawn to you.
You know the type: loud as a motorbike but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight.
Racism is taught in the home. We agree on that? Well, it's very hard to teach racism to a teenager who's listening to rap music and who idolizes, say, Snoop Dogg. It's hard to say, 'That guy is less than you.' The kid is like, 'I like that guy, he's cool. How is he less than me?
I'm trying to tell the story in the most clear, concise, and truthful way, taking those everyday words and phrases and capturing them in a way that they become something else.
I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!
I got 99 Problems but Mitt ain't one.
No matter where you go you are what you are player and you can try to change but that's just the top layer man you was who you was before you got here
How could I be out there and not do anything?
Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn't require either race to lose anything; everyone gained.
I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice - anything just to get a paper bag. And I'd write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook.
Everyone who makes music is a good collaborator at their foundation because in order to make music, you have to connect to it in a way that other people can't.
That's why this generation is the least racist generation ever. You see it all the time. Go to any club. People are intermingling, hanging out, having fun, enjoying the same music. Hip-hop is not just in the Bronx anymore. It's worldwide. Everywhere you go, people are listening to hip-hop and partying together. Hip-hop has done that.
The average rap life is two or three albums. You're lucky to get to your second album in rap!
I get my by any means on, whenever there's a drought get your umbrellas out because that's when I brainstorm.
You put the right artist on the right track in the studio and leave the door open to let God in.
Which is the other reason hip-hop is controversial: People don't bother trying to get it. The problem isn't in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don't even know how to listen to the music.
All these ways we classify things as R&B and hip-hop and rock... It's bullshit. It's all music. If you put yourself in that box, then you won't be able to hear that it's all music at its soul.
What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love. That's their business. It's no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination, plain and simple.
If I don't show the world growth, how are we going to grow?
I couldn't even think about wanting to be something else; I wouldn't let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn't stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane.
It was a weird mix of emotions. One day, your best friend could be killed. The day before, you could be celebrating him getting a brand-new bike.
You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you - falling in love with someone who wasn't brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your 'secret' is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly.
By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn't need pen or paper - my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape.
Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me?
One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That's the American ideal. Poor people don't like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don't like to think of themselves as poor.
Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it
We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.
I think Lil Wayne is extremely talented. I think he's one of the most talented ones out there.
And through our travels we get separated, never forget: In order to survive, got to learn to live with regrets.
When I listen to great music, the first thing I wonder is what people were saying when this came out of the speakers in the studio. I want to know what happened when they played it and said, "This is the one!"
Growing up, politics never trickled down to the areas we come from. But people from Obama's camp, and Obama himself, reached out to me and asked for my help on the campaign. We've sat and had dinner, and we've spoken on the phone. He's a very sharp guy. Very charming. Very cool.
I don't even like the word politics. It implies something underhanded and I think we need less government.
In the end, you can't censor the truth, especially when it comes packaged in hot music.
Everyone needs a chance to evolve.
When you're growing up, your dad is your superhero. Once you've let yourself fall that in love with someone, once you put him on such a high pedestal and he lets you down, you never want to experience that pain again.
I smoked some weed, and that's how I finished 'Izzo.'
Shakespeare was a man who wrote poetry. I'm a man who writes poetry. Why not compare yourself to the best?
Well I'm not just gon' go and do rap songs. I wanna touch, and maybe help, and see what I can do in these areas.' As I start looking around me, looking at things in ways that I can become helpful, starting at the first thing, water. Something as simple as water.
I like a girl who spend a little cash for her shoes.
It's hilarious a lot of times. You have a conversation with someone, and he's like, 'You speak so well!' I'm like, 'What do you mean? Do you understand that's an insult?
If I was to stop making music tomorrow doesn't mean suddenly there is this gap. You don't get elected. The people decide where you are. Whether I'm here or not, if they want you to be at the top then the people will move me out the way.
I am not a businessman. I am a business, man.
A poet's mission is to make words do more work than they normally do, to make them work on more than one level.
― Jay-Z Quotes
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.