Although it's been almost exactly one year since [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] dropped his Billboard-stomping The Blueprint 3, the Brooklyn rapper has in the last 12 months had arguably the most dominant run of his career.
Hov is up for four Moonmen at the 2010 Video Music Awards, three for "Empire State of Mind" and a single nod for "On to the Next One." If the accolades and hardware Jay has compiled recently are any indication, his name is bound to be called a few times on Sunday night.
But the story starts with "Empire State of Mind."
Jay-Z and [artist id="503203"]Alicia Keys[/artist] took their hometown anthem to the World Series, performing the number before game 2 of the baseball championships between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Roc Nation CEO then rode shotgun with Alex Rodriguez during the Yankees victory parade in Manhattan. As the celebration wrapped, Jay performed his tune, which Derek Jeter had used as his at-bat music throughout the playoffs.
Jay-Z scored a big win on his own just a month after the Yanks clinched the chip when he earned his first career #1 record as "Empire State of Mind" topped the Billboard Hot 100. The iconic MC has amassed a total of 11 number one albums, but this was his first solo #1 single.
As is nearly always the case with Jay-Z, business was good, too.
He became a Broadway producer, along with Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, when he invested in the Tony-winning Broadway play "Fela!" The investment was among one of the many money moves that helped Jay-Z to top the Forbes "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list this year, the third time in four years he's done so.
2010 also started off on the right foot as Jay-Z took home the award for Best International Male Solo Artist at the Brit Awards.
In the spring, Jay-Z joined a Brooklyn conglomerate, consisting of the Governor of New York, the Brooklyn borough president and the Russian billionaire owner of the Nets — Jay owns a small share of the team — to break ground on the New Jersey Nets' future arena.
But it wasn't only baseball and basketball pros who wanted a piece of Jay. In June a spokesperson for the New York Racing Association announced "Empire State of Mind" would be played during the142nd running of the Belmont Stakes, replacing Frank Sinatra's classic "New York, New York."
Hov was also the musical act during the Mother's Day episode of "Saturday Night Live" — the highest-rated "SNL" in 18 months — and he dedicated his tune "Forever Young" to host Betty White.
Just last month, Kanye West announced that he and Jay would complete a collaborative album. And this month, Jay is co-headlining with Eminem on their Home and Home concert series. After Eminem stole the show at the first stop, Detroit, expectations for Jay-Z at Yankee Stadium next Monday and Tuesday are higher than, well, the Empire State Building.
Needless to say, Jay should be scoring a Moonman or two this weekend.
The 27th annual MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. The party starts with MTV News' VMA Pre-Show at 8 p.m., followed by the main event at 9 p.m. ET.