So what do you get the man who has everything? On Wednesday (December 4) Jay Z is celebrating his 44th birthday and we at MTV News racked our brains trying to come up with the perfect gift idea. Every idea we came up with kind of fell short.
The only thing we can do is salute Shawn Corey Carter for all that he’s accomplished throughout his career, and we came up with 44 things to celebrate Jay for.
1. Reasonable Doubt
Jay’s classic 1996 debut still stands up 17 years later.
2. Bringing The Nets/Barclays To Brooklyn
Sure Jay didn’t do it alone, but try to imagine the Nets move without him.
Ever since Jay stood under Rihanna’s umbrella, nothing was the same.
4. Battle With Nas
It got super-ugly, but Jay Z versus Nas was one of the great hip-hop battles of all time.
5. Ending The Beef With Nas
It was like when Rocky and Apollo Creed became friends.
6. Collaborations With The Notorious B.I.G.
From “Brooklyn’s Finest” to “Young G’s,” every one is a gem.
7. Marrying Beyoncé
After Hov got the hottest chick in the game to wear his chain, he made an honest woman out of her. Gotta salute that!
8. Roc-A-Fella Records
Along with Dame and Biggs, Jay brought us one of the most storied labels in hip-hop history.
9. Kanye West
Technically it was Dame that signed ‘Ye, but with Hov’s help West grew to be larger than life.
10. “Big Pimpin’”
Who doesn’t love this classic track? Great beat from Timbaland and classic bars from Jay and UGK.
11. Obama Election Efforts
With all of his fundraising efforts, Hov proved that he could politic outside the studio as well.
12. The Blueprint
Six albums into his career and Jay proved he can still make classic material.
After selling the first million copies of his Magna Carta… Holy Grail to Samsung, Jay once again changed everything we knew about selling albums.
14. “Streets Is Watching” Film
Take a little Jerry Seinfeld and mix it with a little Al Pacino and you have Jigga’s brilliant 1998 acting debut. Bravo!
15. “Empire State of Mind”
Jay may have gave Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra a run for his money with this Big Apple anthem.
16. Water For Life MTV Special
Hip-hop has heart and Hov partnered with MTV to help bring water to those in need.
17. Boycotting the Grammys
Jay stood up for hip-hop by boycotting the Grammy Awards in 1999 after they snubbed his then-friend DMX.
18. Blue Ivy Carter
That’s one cute kid!
19. “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”
The “Annie” sample was pure genius.
20. Going From Jerseys To Button Ups
With just one line, Hova changed the way a generation of hip-hoppers dressed. Now, that’s power.
21. Beanie Sigel
The Broad Street Bully was a beast on the mic, shout to Jay for signing him and keeping him as raw as can be.
So what exactly did Jay mean when he said he felt like “Stevie Wonder with beads under the du-rag?” It’s all explained in this one-of-a-kind book.
23. Just Blaze
Where would this hip-hop beat maven be if Hov didn’t take a chance?
24. J. Cole
Kudos to Jay for taking the rapper/producer off the sidelines and giving him a starting position.
25. Rap Beef With Ma$e
One of hip-hop’s greatest subliminal beefs. Oh you didn’t know?
26. Jay Z Unplugged
Much love to the network that aired this gem.
27. That Pic Of Jay Jumping Into A Pool
Thanks for making us feel better about ourselves; you can’t be #1 in everything Hov!
28. “Fade to Black” Film and The Black Album
Retirement was fun while it lasted.
29. “In My Lifetime” Single
This one 12-inch single distributed by Payday started it all.
30. All Of His Collaborations With Pharrell
Seriously, have these two ever made a bad song?
31. Made In America Festival
Sure the world has hundreds of music festivals, but only one is curated by Hova the Great!
32. Roc-A-Fella Chain
If there was ever a finer piece of jewelry, we’ve never seen it.
33. Signing Jay Electronica
Maybe Jay Elec never drops an album, but you can’t say Hov didn’t try.
34. Hard Knock Life Tour
Jay Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man and Redman on one bill? Yes please!
35. Best of Both Worlds
Boy, were we pissed that Hov and R. Kelly’s album didn’t work out.
36. Switching From Critsal To Ace of Spades
We never know which champagne to drink, thanks Shawn!
37. Reasonable Doubt 10-Year Anniversary Concert
For one night only, Jay performs his debut in its entirety — too bad he never released the show footage.
38. His Verse on Juvenile’s “Ha” remix
Before he hooked up with Drake he was getting cash money with Birdman’s original bread winner.
39. Roc Nation
Even without Dame, Jay is still throwing up the diamond sign.
40. “Izzo” Performance At The 2001 VMAs
The Mike Jordan of rap lived up to his moniker with this exciting hometown performance.
41. Every Collaboration With Sauce Money Ever
“Bring it On,” “Face-Off,” “Foundation;” Jay and his Marcy Projects homey made magic.
42. Def Jam Presidency
Sure, LL Cool J took exception, but the Roots got a deal during Hov’s Def jam run.
43. Watch the Throne Album And Tour
We all went H.A.M. over this one.
Seventeen years, 17 albums, millions of records sold; there’s only one Jay Z.