Nine years have passed since the rap icon played the Twin Cities. So what else has he been up to?
He raps, too.
Unless you're a diehard fan who knows every word of the “Blueprint” album and didn't immediately turn away from his dud of a new record, it's easy to forget that Jay Z is first and foremost a rapper. Dude wears a lot of hats.
The hip-hop icon is also known as — in rough order of what gets him the most publicity — a husband to Beyoncé, father to Blue Ivy, clothier, sports agent, advertising pitchman, record producer, bar and restaurant owner and all-around entrepreneur. In the past, he has also been a record-label president, film producer, NBA team owner and wannabe hotel operator.
Somewhere down the long list of things that have made Jay Z more and more famous, there's also “touring performer.” The real-life Shawn Carter, 43, hasn't played a concert in the Twin Cities since 2004 and has never been much for the road. He went so far as to proclaim his retirement from touring in 2006. Funny how he decided to go back out once a baby arrived back home.
So we're not sure how to rate Jay Z's performance skills going into Saturday's concert at Xcel Energy Center, a kickoff to the second U.S. leg of his Magna Carter Tour. But we can rate some of the more high-profile aspects of his multi-faceted career.
Turned down by other labels, Jay started Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996 with business partner Damon Dash to self-release his landmark debut, “Reasonable Doubt.” They built it into one of the most successful record imprints of the ’00s, thanks largely to Jay’s records and not, say, Memphis Bleek’s or Beanie Sigel’s. Jay went on to become president of Def Jam Recordings in 2006, but his tenure was short-lived, and he had a falling-out with Dash.
Greatest hits: Signing Kanye West to Roc-A-Fella and Rihanna to Def Jam.
Jay and Dash started the Rocawear clothing line in 1999 and built it to $700 million in annual sales by the time they sold the company to Iconix for $204 million in 2007. Staying on to help lead the company, Jay has been dogged — no pun intended — by controversies ranging from its use of Asian “raccoon-dog” fur to copyright infringement lawsuits to this year’s much-publicized dispute over its new high-end line for Barneys New York. The department store has been accused of racial profiling.
Greatest hit: Rocawear bomber jackets themselves became icons of hip-hop culture.
Roc-A-Fella produced such utterly forgettable ’00s urban dramas and comedies as “State Property,” “Paid in Full” and “Death of a Dynasty,” several starring Dash himself.