Sean Carter was raised in Marcy’s Projects in the heart of Brooklyn where false stereotypes depict lives. The overpopulated buildings contain individuals who have fallen victim to their reared ways. With every new generation the same roles that previous family members have played repeat. Being raised around drugs, violence and poverty the street life seems normal. It is only when stepping outside of this life that the realization comes into play of the dark picture society paints of the culture. Deemed born failures because of demographics the life out of poverty seems impossible. With this feeling of being stranded in a dark place, when an opportunity arises to get out it is never passed up. But it is only when that opportunity is taken that the cycle continues.
Conceived by Gloria Carter and Adaness Reeves who made love under the Siccamore tree, Sean was brought up in the soul of music. The array of genres made him a very diverse person exploring music all around the globe. Milk Crates staked with records filled the living room. Aside from music always being in the atmosphere, music played a key role in bringing the family together. It was the common ground in the rough relationship of Gloria and Adness.
When Jay was 9 his father would take him to Time Square for the sport of people watching. These staring sessions would install the importance of detail used in his music. While Jay learned these observational skills he would also discover his passion. The tall, run down building of the housing projects formed a courtyard in the middle better described as a boxing ring. It is here where one day Jay’s cousin would show him the art of rap. Neighborhood kids would creatively boost and brag themselves up against their opponent using poetic flow. When introduced to this setting Jay was thrilled and was instantly hooked. The details that were expressed by the participant’s related directly to the skills his father had taught him.
Notebook after notebook, paper bag after paper bag, anything was used to records thoughts, Ideas, and emotions. It was only after a short while when kids would steal his notes that he realized he had a knack for this found art.
While sports stars are models for some, the O’ Jays, Run DMC, Dr. Dre and a handful of oldies from the records that his parents owned were his. It is these idols that would later end up making his music that he sampled and used to make hit songs like “New York State of Mind”.
As a young teen the frustration of poverty began to develop. This frustration would make Sean roll the dice and try to get some change by hustling on the corners. Becoming a street pharmacist would install the hustle mentality of never giving up. It was the long nights on street corners standing in the rain and snow where he would learn that nothing comes easy. The only free ride he ever had was the train from Brooklyn to Trenton where he “worked”.
After years of hustling and working on music Jay would meet artists impressed by his artistic ability. He finally would get his breakout moment by being featured on a song with the famous Big Daddy Kane. When people heard his bit, questions started to arise: Who’s that kid? While gaining popularity for his flow Jay battled an addiction. We hustle out of a sense of, hopelessness, Sort of a desperation, through that desperation, we’ve come addicted, sorta like the fiends we accustomed to servin. It was the streets that started to give him everything poverty didn’t when giving it up seemed like quitting. It was only when his role model cousin would shame him and told him to leave it behind, that the street hustle would cease.
After being denied record label after record label is when he would become CEO of the R-O-C. Jay and two close friends formed Roc-A-Fella records not knowing that one day it would be worth millions. With hard work and sleepless days, Jay’s lyrics would become soundtracks for lives. With business men using his art for board room preparation, and athletes for motivation, his diverse upbringings would attract anyone with two ears.
Always keeping in mind where he has come from and the struggle people face he has become a role model for the youth. He has helped Katrina victims and become an advocate for young Americans to vote, his life is more than a record. It is when he performed his final show in Madison Square garden, with his childhood idols in attendance that he would see impact of what he has accomplished.