Monthly Archives: September 2012

Test: Jay-z slideshow

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Test: Jay-z Profile

A note to the readers: As an assignment for class, we are to look at and post a profile story about a person of our interest. We are to make this story more of a Web story by adding video and/or picture.

Credit for this story goes to


Born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969, Jay-Z grew up in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects. He used rap as an escape, and appeared on Yo! MTV Raps in 1989. After selling millions of records with his own Roc-A-Fella label, Jay-Z then created his own clothing line.

Early Life

Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. “He was the last of my four children,” Jay-Z’s mother later recalled, “the only one who didn’t give me any pain when I gave birth to him, and that’s how I knew he was a special child.” Jay-Z’s father, Adnes Reeves, left the family when Jay-Z was only 11 years old. The young rapper was raised by his mother, Gloria Carter, in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects.

During a rough adolescence, detailed in many of his autobiographical songs, Shawn Carter dealt drugs and flirted with gun violence. He attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn, where he was a classmate of the soon-to-be-martyred rap legend Notorious B.I.G. As Jay-Z later remembered his childhood in one of his songs (“December 4th”), “I went to school, got good grades, could behave when I wanted/ But I had demons deep inside that would raise when confronted.”

Rise to Hop-Hop Fame

Carter turned to rap at a very young age as an escape from the drugs, violence and poverty that surrounded him in the Marcy Projects. In 1989, he joined the rapper Jaz-O—an older performer who served as a kind of mentor—to record a song called “The Originators,” which won the pair an appearance on an episode of Yo! MTV Raps. It was at this point that Shawn Carter embraced the nickname Jay-Z, which was simultaneously an homage to Jaz-O, a play on Carter’s childhood nickname of “Jazzy,” and a reference to the J/Z subway station near his Brooklyn home. But even though he had a stage name, Jay-Z remained relatively anonymous until he and two friends, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, founded their own record label, Roc-A-Fella Records, in 1996. In June of that year, Jay-Z released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Although the record only reached No. 23 on the Billboard charts, it is now considered a classic hip-hop album, featuring songs such as “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” featuring Mary J. Blige, and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a collaboration with Notorious B.I.G. Reasonable Doubt established Jay-Z as an emerging star in hip-hop.

Two years later, Jay-Z achieved even broader success with the 1998 album Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life. The title track, which famously sampled its chorus from the Broadway musical Annie, became Jay-Z’s most popular single to date and won him his first Grammy nomination. “Hard Knock Life” marked the beginning of a fruitful period in which Jay-Z would become the biggest name in hip-hop. Over the span of those years, the rapper released a slew of No. 1 albums and hit singles. His most popular songs from this period include “Can I Get A …”, “Big Pimpin'”, “I Just Wanna Love U”, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “03 Bonnie & Clyde”, a duet with future bride Beyoncé Knowles. Jay-Z’s most acclaimed album of this period was The Blueprint (2001), which would later land on many music critics’ lists of the best albums of the decade.

Expanding Empire

In 2003, Jay-Z shocked the hip-hop world by releasing The Black Album and announcing that it would be his last solo record before retirement. Asked to explain his sudden exit from rap, Jay-Z said that he once derived inspiration from trying to outshine other great MCs, but had simply gotten bored due to a lack of competition. “The game ain’t hot,” he said. “I love when someone makes a hot album and then you’ve got to make a hot album. I love that. But it ain’t hot.”

During his hiatus from rapping, Jay-Z turned his attention to the business side of music, becoming president of Def Jam Recordings. As president of Def Jam, Jay-Z signed such popular acts as Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Young Jeezy and helped effect Kanye West’s transition from producer to bestselling recording artist. But his reign at the venerable hip-hop label wasn’t all smooth sailing; Jay-Z resigned as Def Jam’s president in 2007, complaining about the company’s resistance to change from ineffectual business models. “You have record executives who’ve been sitting in their office for 20 years because of one act,” he lamented.

Jay-Z’s other, ongoing business ventures include the popular urban clothing line Rocawear and Roc-A-Fella films. He also owns the 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar with locations in New York and Atlantic City, and is a part owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise. As Jay-Z once rapped about his business empire, “I’m not a businessman/ I’m a business, man.”

In 2006, Jay-Z ended his retirement from making music, releasing the new album Kingdom Come. He soon released two more albums: American Gangster in 2007 and Blueprint 3 in 2010. This trio of later albums marked a significant departure from Jay-Z’s earlier sound, incorporating stronger rock and soul influences in their production and offering lyrics tackling such mature subjects as the response to Hurricane Katrina; Barack Obama’s 2008 election; and the perils of fame and fortune. Jay-Z says he’s trying to adapt his music to befit his own middle age. “There’s not a lot of people who have come of age in rap because it’s only 30 years old,” he says. “As more people come of age, hopefully the topics get broader and then the audience will stay around longer.”

In 2008, Jay-Z signed a $150 million contract with the concert promotion company Live Nation. This super deal created a joint venture called Roc Nation, an entertainment company that handles nearly all aspects of its artists’ careers. In addition to Jay-Z himself, Roc Nation manages Willow Smith and J. Cole among others.

More recently, Jay-Z proved that he had both commercial and critical staying power. He teamed up with another famous member of rap royalty, Kanye West, for 2011’s Watch the Throne. The album proved to be a triple hit, topping the rap, R&B and pop charts that August. The song “Otis,” which samples the late R&B singer Otis Redding, snagged several Grammy Award nominations and the recording was also nominated for Best Rap Album. As he sang one of the tracks, “I guess I got my swagger back.”

Personal Life

Very protective of his private life, Jay-Z did not publicly discuss his relationship with longtime girlfriend, the popular singer Beyoncé Knowles, for years. The couple even managed to keep the press away from their small wedding on April 4, 2008, in New York City. Only about 40 people attended the celebration at Jay-Z’s penthouse apartment, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow and former Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

Since tying the knot, Jay-Z and Beyoncé became the subject of countless pregnancy rumors. They welcomed their first child, a daughter named Blue Ivy Carter, on January 7, 2012. Concerned about their privacy and safety, Jay-Z and Beyoncé rented part of New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital and hired extra guards.

Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Jay-Z released a song in her honor on his website. On “Glory,” he expressed his joy of becoming a father and revealed that Beyoncé had previously suffered a miscarriage. Jay-Z and Beyoncé also posted a message along with the song, saying “we are in heaven” and Blue’s birth “was the best experience of both of our lives.”

Meet Kristi Barlette

Kristi Gustafson Barlette is a social media strategist and reporter at the Albany Times Union. She is a features writer who writes about issues and topics that those in their 30s can relate to in her weekly column Life 3.0 and her popular On The Edge blog.

She uses social media personally, to draw readers to her blog, as an entity to view photo albums on the Times Union website, and to engage readers. Aside from spending much of her day on the Times Union website, a good portion of her time is devoted to The Stir, The Huffington Post, and All Over Albany.

When asked what steps she took using social media to get her blog to where it is today, Barlette says she used a lot of personal interaction. She would use Facebook and Twitter to engage people and get them to want to read her blog. She would share her likes and dislikes, which allowed people to better identify with her.

“The more interested people are in your thoughts and what you post, the more likely they are to follow your blog when you promote it,” Barlette says.

When blogging though, beware of a few things. Since the blog is the fastest way to share information and often times the quickest way to display mistakes, it is important to be accurate. Don’t make simple mistakes that could be prevented.

“Triple confirm everything,” Barlette says.

Another quirk with social media is that customers now expect companies to communicate thoroughly with it. Barlette can relate with this and says people have compliments, complaints, concerns, or just want to know the holiday hours. Quick responses are the most beneficial she says. One of her friends had received a birthday coupon for Red Robin for a free burger, but had lost the coupon. She called and e-mailed the company for a few days, but no response was made. She then posted about the issue and tagged the company on her Facebook wall. Needless to say, her concern was almost instantly answered. So for companies, social media use is huge and is at times quicker than picking up the phone or writing an e-mail.

Finally, Barlette advises students who are pursuing a career in journalism to be well rounded. A basic knowledge of HTML and bringing various multimedia packages to the table will make a person stand out, she shares. The social media aspects that you don’t think are important actually make you distinct from another person.

“Be savvy!,” she finishes.

How Do Young People Use Social Media?

Have you ever sat across from a date or even a friend whose fingers seemed to be glued to that iPhone, Android, or Blackberry? Have you ever done it a thousand times? Have you ever felt like this generation is lacking in ordinary communication skills because we have the Internet at our every disposal?

Although it may be difficult for our generation to hold a conversation while on a date or even refrain from taking our eyes off of our phones on the walk to class, this technological advancement can be beneficial. We have the ability to put anything that is on our minds out there with the touch of a button. Social media has made accessing instant information as easy as getting the mail.

On my way to class the other day, I bumped into Chelsea Walrath, 20, on her iPhone scrolling through Twitter.

“I use Twitter and Instagram a lot. I love the idea of sharing and comparing pictures on a social network. Twitter and Facebook are really just how I keep in touch with friends or follow celebrities,” Walrath said.

So, is it a vanity thing? Or a way to stay extremely connected?

Sophomore Allison Kartner, 19, says she uses social media to look up information quickly, keep in touch with friends, get new ideas, and for breaking news.

“I know when something really huge has happened because it’s all over Facebook and Twitter. I actually find out there before I hear it on any news station. People love to put their two cents in about breaking news,” Kartner said.

In addition to staying connected, young people use social media for educational purposes.

Senior Brittany DeMarco, 21, says she uses Facebook to stay connected with people she met in Europe this past summer while studying abroad. She also recently used Facebook to help with a class project.

“Social media is such a diverse tool. It can be used in any way really,” DeMarco says.

Why Blog?

Blogging is the quickest form of news that can either be significantly positive or significantly negative. The risk of error is higher than that of a published newspaper. If you’re like me though, blogging is a bit of a thrill. It is so spur of the moment and timely, that it almost gives you an adrenaline rush. When you sit down to write a blog, you almost always want to finish it right then and there. Going back is a nuisance. These short little blurbs are at their best when written and published in one sitting.

In Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” he says, “For bloggers, the deadline is always now.” This is true. This writing out loud version of journalism that emerged a little over a decade ago is the most alive it will get when it comes to writing. It exposes the author in a way that most other forms of journalism do not. People either love what you have to say or hate it, and almost always have something to say about it. That’s what comes with freedom though. There will be a price for whatever you say. The more freedom a person is given, the more he or she has to lose or gain.

When blogging, someone will always know more than you. Comments make for conversation though. The more absurd and more out there something is that you blog about, the more traffic you will draw. People don’t like mediocre things. They always have something to say about the blogs where people stepped outside the box of normalcy. After all, normal is boring. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

The strongest emotions often make for the best writing. Think about it this way: every successful rapper or music artist wrote songs in times of tragedy. The greatest artists usually come from the most f*cked up backgrounds. Struggles are what people can relate to and they are what is REAL. Keeping that in mind, I will work to deliver entertaining and unique information that the world can relate to.